Tax stamps on cigarette packs, no to foreign companies: Economist

Karachi: In order to tighten noose around unabated illicit and non-tax paid cigarette trade, the introduction of tax stamps on cigarette packs has been a pertinent subject of discussion these days.

Pakistan where 1 out of every 4 cigarettes sold is illicit, the proposed printing of stamps on cigarette packs comes as a significant move that would greatly help to eradicate the untaxed cigarette trade. The experts term it a good solution towards the mushroomed problem of non-tax paid cigarettes by means of tracking them.

However, hiring a foreign company or outsourcing any company for printing tax stamps on cigarette packs not only involves serious repercussions, it entails financial constraints as well. The foreign tax stamps printing companies like SICPA that have lately been in the media but for all the wrong reasons, should not be relied upon to print the tax stamps. 

According to a renowned economist, Pakistan should not allow the money spent on tax stamps to be handed over to some foreign company. “This is our money, the money of Pakistani tax payers and it should stay in Pakistan. The government is more than capable of printing the tax stamps by itself than relying on foreign companies. We have secure printing press, Printing Corporation of Pakistan and a host of other big printing houses that can perform this task adequately and effectively,” he said.

It is pertinent to mention here that Brazil’s Federal Police have recently arrested the former general coordinator of inspection at the federal tax office, Marcelo Fisch, and his wife, Mariangela Defeo Menezes, for taking bribes in bids and contracts of printing tax stamps for the beverage and cigarette sectors. Fisch was one of those responsible for hiring SICPA, which signed the related contracts in a highly dubious manner without any bidding. As a result, the Brazilian exchequer suffered heavily. This can be prevented from happening in Pakistan.

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