Track and Trace System Delay Investigation: PM Dissatisfied with Committee Report
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The Prime Minister has instructed Secretary Finance Imdad Ullah Bosal to identify officials responsible for the delay in implementing the Track and Trace System.

During the cabinet meeting on Friday, the Prime Minister expressed dissatisfaction with the report submitted by the committee led by Tariq Bajwa on Track and Trace. The report failed to identify FBR officials accountable for the system’s implementation delay.

The Prime Minister has directed his trusted Secretary Finance to identify those responsible; the poor implementation of the project resulted in significant lapses and delays, sources revealed.

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The committee was also tasked to determine accountability for the failure to integrate the tracking system throughout the supply chain.

Sources disclosed that the FBR partially implemented the TTS in industries such as Sugar, Cement, Fertilizer, and Tobacco factories due to alleged collusion with industrialists.

Reportedly, the committee led by Bajwa found no wrongdoing in the contract award process. However, it attributed delays and poor implementation of the TTS project to manufacturers and contractors.

Sources further revealed persistent issues within FBR management, which did not prioritize the project. Despite this, the FBR did not take action against manufacturers and even extended deadlines for TTS implementation.

Many local tobacco companies signed MoUs with FBR but failed to install the system on their production lines, unlike multinational tobacco companies, which implemented the applicators over their production lines, sources added.

Sources also mentioned disputes between the FBR and the consortium over concessions regarding equipment import and plant setup, deviating from the initial design proposed by the consortium.

Meanwhile, the performance of Inland Revenue Enforcement Network (IREN) squads remained unsatisfactory, as they failed to seize illegal cigarettes and unstamped goods nationwide.

The weak enforcement, including fake stamped goods available in the market, was highlighted by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif during a recent cabinet meeting.

When the Prime Minister announced the inquiry, FBR higher management directed Regional Tax Offices (RTO) to conduct operations against illegal cigarettes and unstamped sugar and fertilizer bags.

The premier also expressed serious reservations about the lack of oversight, supervision, and penalties on non-compliant manufacturers, indicating that FBR’s track and trace as well as IREN squads failed in unauthorized stoppage of production of notified goods.

Former Chairman FBR Shabbar Zaidi revealed in a TV interview that his government was pressured by the Sugar Sector not to implement the system, emphasizing that the Track and Trace System can succeed only with industry cooperation.

Educating the masses about the importance of Track and Trace and how to use it to verify product authenticity is crucial.

Lastly, FBR should consider outsourcing enforcement or assigning the task to Regional Tax Offices (RTOs), as the current IREN squads have been ineffective in verifying tax stamps.

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