Crackdown on Illegal Cigarette Sellers Lauded

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PESHAWAR: As the country grapples with persistent economic hardships and a shortage of foreign reserves to cover its import bills, the government is leaving no stone unturned in its efforts to manage the ongoing crisis. However, there is still much work to be done to streamline the situation. Recently, the interim government and authorities have initiated a crackdown on illicit cigarette retailers, smugglers, and distributors, showing zero tolerance for these wrongdoers. However, there is a need to crack down on illegal cigarette manufacturers in the country who are making and selling these illicit cigarettes. “This crackdown is a long-overdue response to the increasing prevalence of illicit cigarettes in the Pakistani markets, due to the FED hikes on legal cigarette brands. But these operations also need to target the manufacturers of these cigarettes”, said an expert. It is pertinent to mention that the market share of illicit cigarettes in the country has now reached over 50% since the last FED hike, and tax evasion from the cigarette sector has now reached Rs 240 billion. He emphasized that strong determination and effective policy execution are essential to maximize the benefits of this initiative and to curb illicit cigarettes in the country. The expert also pointed out that a crackdown on illicit cigarette manufacturers, along with retailers, distributors, and smugglers, is needed at this time to eliminate illicit cigarettes in the country, which is causing billions of rupees in economic losses during hard times. This will also help plug revenue leaks and achieve revenue targets. APP