Islamabad - Pakistan National Hearth Association (PANAH) on Saturday expressed concerns over awarding of track and trace system contract to the tobacco industry backed firm. 

Anti-tobacco activist, secretary general PANAH Sanaullah Ghuman said that tobacco industry once again has tricked the government and remained successful in awarding the track and trace system contract to its favoured company. “PANAH condemned this decision,” he said.  Ghuman said that multinational tobacco industry allegedly gave Rs150 billion damage to national exchequer by avoiding the tax and now again mistakes are being repeated.  He said that awarding of track and trace system contract to multinational backed company will not only cause damage to national exchequer but also increase expenditure on health.  He said that the said company has already worked with multinational tobacco companies and it will not maintain transparency.

“An international reputable company was disqualified on technical grounds by FBR to favour this company which will likely dance on the tunes of multinational tobacco industry,” he said.  Ghuman said that it will increase the chances of tempering the system of tax collection on multinational tobacco companies.  He also said that the track and trace system if transparently awarded and implemented would monitor and control the production of multinational tobacco companies to cap the smuggled cigarettes in the market.

“Companies itself send non-tax paid cigarettes in the market to avoid taxation and earn profit,” he said.  Secretary General PANAH also said that volume of illicit cigarettes in the market is 10 per cent as per internationally monitored survey contrary to the claim of FBR that says its 40 per cent. He said that smuggled cigarettes of multinational brands reached in country from Afghanistan and from local market also. 

Ghuman also said that the track and trace system in current situation will be unable to trace the smuggled cigarettes in the country as mobile application feature has been removed from it.

He also said that it is unbelievable that FBR authorities are unaware from the facts and wrongdoings of multinational tobacco companies, but it has closed its eyes from reality.

Pakistan is one of 181 parties to the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control since 2004 and is among 56 parties that have ratified the protocol to eliminate illicit trade in tobacco products. The protocol stipulates that any tobacco track and trace solution shall be independent of the tobacco industry.