INTERNATIONAL DESK: A detailed report by Pakistan’s Intelligence Bureau (IB) on smuggling, tax evasion, drug trade, hoarding, illegal currency business and misuse of Afghan transit trade shows how different mafias are hugely haemorrhaging the country’s economy, The News International Newspaper reported.
The News International, published in broadsheet size, is one of the largest English-language newspapers in Pakistan.
The report submitted to the government by the IB also highlights what the agency is doing to check the economic terrorism threatening Pakistan.
As per the report, just the illegal supply of Iranian POL products alone causes an annual loss of at least Rs 225 billion to the national exchequer. Smuggled Iranian oil is usually sold at illegal roadside petrol outlets but has now even found its way to regular petrol pumps across the country.
The report says exhaustive anti-smuggling efforts by IB, resulted in the identification of 76 transporters and 29 smugglers and facilitators who were involved in the smuggling of Iranian oil. As per the report, 995 illegal and unlicensed petrol pumps across the country were also identified as being involved in the sale and purchase of smuggled Iranian oil.
On the issue of the massive devaluation of the Pakistrupee, the report says that the volatility in the stock market and imposition of capital gain taxes in real estate and capital markets resulted in investors with black money diverting their capital towards foreign currencies so as to capitalize on the weak economic fundamental-induced exchange rate devaluation, as per The News International.
Afghanistan’s annual trade volume gap of USD 4 billion is met through the drug trade, currency smuggling from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and receipts on account of hawala/hundi. In order to thwart currency smugglers and forex market manipulators, the IB identified 122 currency smugglers and 40 exchange companies involved in the manipulation of the currency markets.
With drug use on the rise, and some drug dealers even have made their way into educational institutions in urban centres besides amassing dirty money by selling their products in the international market, the IB has identified 717 drug dealers across Pakistan and 22 transnational drug networks operating across various countries of the Middle East and Europe. This includes a notorious Nigerian group operating in Islamabad, as per The News International.
Tobacco is among the top five most tax-evading sectors in Pakistan’s ailing economy with around Rs 240 billion in annual tax evasion. The imposition of heavy taxes on Tier-I and Tier-II cigarettes in March 2023 led to an increase in smuggling. Taking note of the matter, the IB launched operations against those involved in this illegal activity.
The agency identified 62 cigarette smugglers, traced routes used for tobacco smuggling, and unearthed 40 godowns used for the storage of illicit cigarettes. This included three big illegal manufacturing units of counterfeit cigarettes and recovery of 1.03 million kg non-duty paid tobacco in a single operation from an undeclared godown located in district Swabi, KP and involving Rs 2.645 billion evasion of FED.
According to the report, the bulk of tea imported under the Afghan Transit Trade Agreement (ATTA) is smuggled back through reverse cargo into Pakistan. The IB has shared details of 63 major tea smugglers and 29 storage sites of smuggled tea with the concerned authorities.
The report reveals that 49 per cent of the annual demand for tyres in Pakistan is met through smuggling which not only adversely affects the local manufacturing industry but also causes a colossal loss to national exchequer. While working against those involved in tyre smuggling, the agency has shared information about 66 tyre smugglers and 71 godowns where smuggled tyres were stored with the concerned authorities.
On the issue of sugar hoarding and its smuggling to Afghanistan by mafias, the report says that during 2023, around 476 operations were carried out against sugar hoarding/ smuggling by district administration/ LEAs based on IB leads which resulted in the recovery of 93,182 MT sugar valuing Rs13 billion. Further, 109 sugar smugglers and 14 sugar mills involved in sugar smuggling were also identified by the IB. (ANI)