Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed the authorities concerned to evolve and implement a comprehensive and results oriented strategy to effectively curb the menace of smuggling that creates shortage of eatables in the country and illegal entry of foreign goods accruing colossal losses to the economy in duties and taxes collection. FBR and authorities of law enforcing agencies of the federal and provincial governments have been asked to make coordinated efforts for curbing smuggling that take heavy toll on the economy.
Never ever in the past the menace of smuggling has been taken so seriously by the ruling political leadership, which led to the closure of local industry. Smuggling of foreign good into the country was ignored on the plea that these goods are being sold at dumping price and when their prices go up buyers will not take it. The premise went wrong. The consumers developed a propensity for the purchase of smuggled goods instead of locally manufactured substitutes. The motivating factor is the low price, high quality, and reliability of foreign goods. Despite the repeated demands from the business community for facilitating induction of new technologies and products innovations in the era of free trade, successive government did not make it a priority. Still technological up-gradation and products innovation do not figure in the priority list of the present government.
Bulk of the Afghan Transit Trade goods finds their way to local market. The tax exemption available for the tribal districts of former FATA and settled district of PATA serve as safe haven for the downward shipment of smuggled goods to the markets of settled district of the country. This exemption must be done away with and political expediency must not delay it. Moreover, the sale of non-duty paid goods in the markets should be allowed after the payment of duty on them either by whole sellers ‘or retailers. Last year, FBR had launched a drive in this regard but was abandoned for unknown reasons.