FBR’s tobacco sector monitoring move draws criticism

A private company in a letter to adviser to PM on Finance and Finance secretary questions transparency of the process

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD

A private company has written a letter to adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Abdul Hafiz Sheikh and Finance secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch expressing reservations over handing over of tobacco sector control to a company of a close friend of FBR chairman Shabbar Zaidi.

The letter has been written  by Reliance Corporation Private Limited and Reliance IT Solution Private Limited voicing grave concern over  granting  of electronic monitoring (track and trace) licence  to favorite company in a ‘non-transparent manner’.

Lawyer Salman Akram Raja has written this letter encompassing several legal and constitutional points pertaining to issuance of licence.

Through this letter the finance adviser has been stressed to stop FBR chairman from ‘showing haste and violating the respective law’ otherwise the company has said it will be constrained to resort to the court.

According to contents of letter Abdul Hafiz Sheikh and Naveed Baloch have been urged to take immediate notice of ‘corruption and breach’ of rules and regulations in the name of track and trace system in cigarette department at FBR.  FBR chairman had convened a conference in Headquarters Office on August 22, 2019 wherein the companies were informed about the track and trace licence under IT system. All the stake holders were also taken into confidence about the utility of this project. The representatives of Reliance Company had disclosed drawbacks in the system of issuance of this important legal licence besides seeking replies to several questions from the concerned authorities particularly chairman FBR.    But no reply has been received so far in respect of these questions despite lapse of two weeks.  But the licence of track and trace system is likely to be granted to favorite company.

It has been held in the letter that FBR higher authorities are granting track and trace system licence under electronic monitoring to a company by defying Pepra rules which is tantamount to commit robbery on the legal and constitutional rights of other stake holders.

Two glaring mistake in tenders tender documents s have been highlighted. As per these flaws, licence agreement is being made with FRB on one side and on the other side another agreement will be signed between cigarette companies and the company to which licence is being granted.

FBR has taken illegal step by signing agreement with the company under FRO 2019/250 than Pepra rules.

 

Hafiz Sheikh and finance secretary have been stressed that they should stop the issuance of licence till the replies to the questions raised by Reliance company are received so that compliance of proposed laws could be ensured to make this agreement transparent.