LAHORE: The Punjab Excise and Taxation Department has decided to provide computerised number plates to motorists immediately after the lifting of the lockdown. The department is not only addressing the issues that led to the undue delay in the delivery of smart cards but the card manufacturing company tasked with the job is also taking steps to ensure the availability of raw materials.
Sources say that owing to the coronavirus crisis, the excise department has been facing a huge deficit in revenue collection but the department will focus on arrears and token tax collection in an effort to meet its target.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Punjab Excise Director-General Narcotics Chaudhry Masoodul Haq said that the new agreement for the manufacturing of number plates was hit with delays for the last three years due to various reasons but now the Punjab Cabinet has formally reached an agreement with the National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC), a subsidiary of the federal government.
The NRTC had started working on the installation and enhancing the capacity of its machines but was process was stalled due to the spread of Covid-19.
“Right now we are trying to expedite the process by completing the formalities of the agreement and after the lockdown, the NRTC will start preparing the number plates,” he said. “At present, more than 1.8 million people are waiting for the issuance of number plates. I issued clear instructions to the smart-card manufacturing company to ensure adequate availability of raw materials.”
He added that due to the coronavirus crisis and the succeeding economic crisis, the excise department has been unable to reach its annual revenue target of Rs39.7 billion.
“As soon as the lockdown eases and field staff of government offices are allowed to resume their duties, we will try to recover the tax. The new tax survey is almost complete and the valuation table has been prepared. In the current scenario, the implementation of the new tax schedule is expected from the next financial year (July 2020), while the preparation of rules and regulations for the collection of property tax from buildings along motorways and highways will be completed soon,” Masoodul Haq stated.
Shedding light on the matter, some senior officers of the excise department said that consultation sessions have started between the minister of excise and the secretary excise for important appointments and transfers in the Excise and Narcotics Control Department of Punjab.
“It is likely that the current director excise Region B Lahore Rao Shakeel-ur-Rehman Khan will be deployed as the new director-general of the Punjab narcotics control department, meanwhile the director of excise Region A Lahore Rizwan Akram Sherwani is likely to be deployed as the additional director-general of excise and taxation,” a senior official, who preferred not to be named, said.
He added that Rao Shakeel-ur-Rehman Khan will be deployed because of his seniority and years of service in the department. Sherwani, who had applied for early retirement, is now withdrawing his application. Appointments and transfers of several officers for the post of regional directors are also expected.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 25th, 2020.