Destroying non-duty-paid items

Non-customs paid cars, cigarettes and other imported items have always been tricky issues. In a safe area of Hayatabad on August 27, the Chief Commissioner (FBR), Sardar Ali Khwaja, was shown setting ablaze a huge pile of 1841 cartons of cigarettes. The cigarettes belonged to various imported and local brands.

The cartons of these cigarettes had been confiscated by the mobile teams of the Customs House. The other cartons were taken into custody at the roadside check posts set up between Torkham and Peshawar. This activity was done under the auspices of the Regional Tax Office (FBR), Peshawar.

It was said that in the open market the price of the destroyed cigarettes was about six crore rupees. Moreover, under the heads of the sales tax and the excise duty, these burnt cigarettes would have brought into the government exchequer an amount of about four crore rupees. The total expected income came up to ten crore rupees. The province could not earn the ten crore rupees, but the expensive tobacco products have now been reduced to ashes.

Peshawar is a border town and the cases of smuggling are common. But in that context, Lahore and Quetta can also be termed as border towns. In Lahore, there have been reports of smuggled goods coming from India through the Wagah border. Similarly, various items smuggled from Iran can be seen in Quetta and other cities of Balochistan.

One never heard that imported items were set on fire in Lahore or Quetta. The officials in Peshawar could contact the local tobacco agents. Through them, the confiscated items could have been sold away. The sales proceeds, along with the tax and excise duty, could then be deposited into the exchequer.