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January 22, 2015

Excise Dept shuts down toll-free facility


January 22, 2015

The Excise and Taxation (E&T) Punjab has stopped the 9966 SMS portal and 0800-09966 toll-free number to increase the inconvenience to citizens, The News has learnt.
The 9966 platform was launched to help the public to speak to internal systems of the Excise Department bypassing the conventional officialdom. With the help of 9966 SMS portal, everyone could easily get any information regarding the vehicles’ ownership, token tax, transfer and registration. One can easily obtain any information regarding excise motor branch functions by sending his vehicle number to 9966 via SMS.
Soon after the launch of 9966 portal on January 01, 2014 the department received 2.4 million SMS and 49,768 calls on toll free number to check their vehicles related information. For the 9966 portal the E&T Punjab had to computerise the entire data of token tax after synchronising the data from 147 post offices of Punjab and linked it with this SMS service.
Citizens could check their outstanding token tax just by sending their vehicle’s registration number to 9966 through an SMS. Earlier, citizens had to visit their post offices concerned every year to deposit token tax of their vehicles. The process was termed a very painful activity by those whose vehicles belonged to some other city and they were living somewhere else in Punjab. For example, a person from Lahore, who purchased a car from Rahimyar Khan, had to visit his post office in Rahimyar Khan to pay token tax but now he could pay his token tax in Lahore by checking the details through the SMS.
Information related to token tax, income tax and other taxes that were paid during car’s registration could be collected via the SMS service along with other details such as owner’s name and who it was transferred to.
This service was also very helpful to the Excise &Taxation team in verifying who had paid the tax and who had not, right there and then.
Earlier, the token tax details were not available

online and, on this SMS, service and all the process of token tax was manual.
Now after the shutdown of 9966 service, people have to go to the post offices of their respective cities and then come back to excise office to provide the evidence of their token submission as the online database is no more available on SMS portal of 9966. A senior official of the Excise on the condition of anonymity told The News that it was a great challenge for the Excise Department to collect all the manual data available in registers only with the post offices and then to post it online in a very short time. He said the most of the registers’ record was in a dilapidated condition but the department officers got their scanned copies and posted their data on online servers for the SMS portal. He said the entire 9966 portal was closed down just to facilitate the agent mafia and their allies working in Motor Branch E&T.
He said the E&T Punjab got 12 percent plus revenue for fiscal year of 2014, 1200 million rupees than 2013. Several thousands were spent on the advertisement of 9966 campaign which now had totally been dumped.
It was the first time in the Excise Department’s history that postal offices token tax data had been computerised besides the data of 350,000 stolen vehicles was also posted on this online SMS portal with the help of the Punjab police, he added.
When DG E&T Punjab Ahmed Aziz Tarrar contacted, he told The News that eight months ago the service of 9966 portal was shut down as its compiling agency PRAL was no more in working condition.
DG Excise Ahemd Aziz added that now the department had now a new SMS portal 8786 which was being run by the PITB but surprisingly when an SMS was sent to 8786, there was no reply regarding any vehicle information but a spam message of some website was received after sometime. The reply came from 8786 stated “Alert! You have entered the invalid keyword. For help, write to [email protected]”.

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