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NAB’s action against FBR officials expedited in tobacco tax case

NAB’s action against FBR officials expedited in tobacco tax case

ISLAMABAD: The National Accountability Bureau has expedited efforts in a case against the Federal Board of Revenue officials and others for providing benefits to multinational cigarette brands through third tier tax and caused a loss of Rs50 billion to the national exchequer.

According to the official documents, the case was presented in Regional Bureau meeting of NAB Rawalpindi and it was decided to forward the matter to NAB headquarters with the recommendation that Awareness and Presentation Division may look into the matter in consultation with FBR for necessary action with the approval of the competent authority.

Special Committee of the Senate on decline in tax collection from the tobacco industry has also taken the issue and ordered the Pakistan auditor General to conduct audit over collection of less tax and submit the report to committee within a month. It has also asked the FBR to provide the details of relatives of FBR high up who are working in multinational tobacco companies on hefty salary packages.

Chairperson of Special Committee Senator Kulsoon Parveen has also shown concerns in reduction of Rs400 billion in tax collection and said the committee will also determine the reasons behind reduction of tax collection in tobacco sector in 2017 and 2018.

Sources said that FBR officials provided billion of rupees’ benefit to two multinational tobacco brands through third tier tax in 2017 and 2018. The FBR introduced third tier slab of tax in 2017 through a bill and shifted the brands of multinational tobacco companies in lowest tax slab allowed them to sale their cigarettes with 50 percent reduction in federal excise duty. They mentioned that the Bureau had written a letter to FBR to appoint a focal person for providing the data in this case but it did not so far.

They said that around 11 per cent of total population being smokers and FBR provided a safe way for the two multinationals tobacco brands to pay less tax through the three-tier structure. They said that close relatives of officials of FBR are working on lucrative posts in these two multinational companies.