Crucial Role of Track and Trace System in Combating Illegal Cigarette Manufacturing

Crucial Role of Track and Trace System in Combating Illegal Cigarette Manufacturing

The Track and Trace system is undeniably vital in curbing illegal cigarette manufacturing and addressing the pressing issues associated with it in Pakistan.

The current situation, as outlined, paints a clear picture of the challenges faced by the country’s cigarette industry and the urgency of implementing this technology-driven solution.

First and foremost, the staggering annual loss of Rs 240 billion to the national exchequer due to the illegal sale of cigarettes is a massive drain on the country’s finances. This loss directly impacts the government’s ability to fund critical services and infrastructure projects that benefit the entire population. It is crucial to acknowledge that these losses are not a victimless crime; they affect every citizen by limiting the government’s capacity to provide essential services.

The fact that only two regulated cigarette companies contribute 98% of the taxes, while the remaining 52 companies, with nearly half of the market share, contribute only 2%, highlights a severe imbalance in the industry. This inequality needs to be rectified to ensure that all players in the cigarette industry contribute their fair share to the national revenue, and the Track and Trace system can help achieve this by ensuring transparency and accountability.

The slow adoption of the Track and Trace system by cigarette companies is concerning, especially considering the government’s directive for its implementation by August 1st, 2023. The delay and lack of compliance indicate a need for stronger enforcement measures and penalties for non-compliance.

The concentration of illegal cigarette production in the northern region, particularly in Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is a serious issue that needs immediate attention. This not only contributes to financial losses but also undermines public health policies. Illicitly produced cigarettes often evade quality control measures, posing a health risk to consumers.

Furthermore, the involvement of influential individuals in KPK’s cigarette industry in illegal activities is disheartening. It underscores the need for impartial enforcement of the law, regardless of an individual’s status or connections.

The Track and Trace system is not just a technology solution; it is a crucial tool in safeguarding Pakistan’s financial stability, ensuring a level playing field in the cigarette industry, and protecting public health. To combat illegal cigarette manufacturing effectively, the government must prioritize the uniform implementation and rigorous enforcement of this system throughout the industry.

It’s time to take decisive action to curb illegal activities and secure a brighter, healthier future for Pakistan.

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