ISLAMABAD—Federal Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said on Saturday tax evasion was rampant in the cigarette industry and the government had decided to take steps to curb the practice.
Mobile teams of the Federal Board of Revenue's (FBR) will become fully operational all over the country on May 1 and special audit of suspicious units will be carried out within next 60 days, he added.
Sheikh said that the culture of tax evasion was a serious issue in the country and the government was taking concrete steps to control the menace.
Addressing a National Enforcement Dialogue on Tax Evasion in Pakistan, Shaikh said tax evasion was causing revenue shortfall, thus hampering national development and public welfare projects and dependence on foreign loans was increasing due to this undesirable practice.
The Finance Minister also highlighted that weak regulatory mechanism was one of the reasons for tax evasion as it encouraged tax evaders resulting in ever increasing number of people and organizations starting getting involved in tax evasion.
"Joint teams of FBR's Customs Intelligence and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will specially supervise the clearance procedure", he added. Speaking on occasion, Chairman FBR Mumtaz Haider Rizvi said that the issue of tax evasion in the cigarette industry is of very serious nature and is caused by non-compliance to the legal framework.
He said that FBR has established a dedicated cell in Peshawar which is doing all efforts to check production and distribution of illegal cigarettes as well as entry of smuggled cigarettes into the country which is evident from recent successful raids in Khypber PakhtunKhawa and Sindh.
The chairman FBR said that introduction of special audit system to check suspicious tax evasion has helped a lot in countering tax evasion.
Prominent economist Dr. Ashfaque Hassan, Member Inland revenue Shahid Hussain Asad, DG Customs Intelligence Muhammad Riaz, Member of Parliament's Finance Committee Kashmala Tariq and President of Supreme Court Bar Association Yaseen Azad also addressed the National Dialogue.