Since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed worry over Rs80 billion in 'tax evasion,' Prime Minister (PM) Shehbaz Sharif instructed the authorities to take action against unlicensed cigarette companies.

According to information, the prime minister issued the directions during a meeting after the Fund voiced concern over Rs80 billion in 'tax evasion' through the illegal cigarette trade.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has asked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to complete the track and trace system for all cigarette manufacturing enterprises.

According to reports, FBR Inland Revenue Intelligence teams will conduct a nationwide crackdown on illicit cigarette manufacturing, and a report on the topic would be presented to the IMF.

According to sources, about 24 cigarette manufacturing businesses still needed to be included in the track and trace system.

At the meeting, the Finance Ministry and the FBR informed the Prime Minister about the illegal cigarette trade. The FBR has been instructed to submit to the Prime Minister's Office its monthly report on crackdowns on illicit cigarettes.

Earlier in February, the federal government raised cigarette taxes with immediate effect in order to earn Rs115 billion from the anticipated Rs170 billion mini-budget.

According to the FBR statement, the standard rate of General Sales Tax (GST) has been raised from 17 to 18% with effect from February 15, 2023. Cigarette Federal Excise Tax (FED) has also been raised.


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