Saturday January 22, 2022

FBR’s e-surveillance hits a glitch in the mid of cane crushing season

January 13, 2021

KARACHI: The government’s plan to pilot online surveillance of sugar production has confronted a technical barrier as real-time video connection with the tax system couldn’t be built with crushing reaching the middle point, sources said on Tuesday.

Monitoring cameras have initially failed to capture manufacturing activities at the sugar mills, they said.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) asked sugar mills to install video analytics system (VAS) for sharing the production activities in real-time by January 15.

The sources at Large Taxpayers Office (LTO) Karachi said at least two sugar mills have so far implemented the VAS from designated vendors, but the gadgets couldn’t synchronise the records of production lines with the main database of the FBR. The LTO Karachi has jurisdictions over 29 sugar mills.

The FBR in November last year issued a list of seven vendors. The sources said the vendors complain that sugar mills are located in different parts of the country and they are unable to demonstrate the equipment because of cost of travelling and other expenses involved.

“In order to resolve the issues between sugar mills and vendors, a meeting is scheduled on January 13 (today) at FBR headquarters,” said a source.

The sources said the implementation of VAS at sugar mills would not be possible in the current crushing season. The sugar crushing season runs through November to March.

The FBR has deputed its officials at sugar mills as a stopgap measure until it develops a real-time video links with crushing and production processes.

Previously, the FBR extended the implementation of VAS up to January 15 after receiving requests from Pakistan Sugar Mills Association’s (PSMA) members as well as pre-qualified vendors to extend the deadline as the task could not be accomplished mainly due to the ongoing COVID-19 challenges.

In September last, the FBR introduced video analytics rules for electronic monitoring of production of specified goods through a statutory regulatory order. The following month, PSMA signed a memorandum of understanding for the implementation of video analytics rules.

Video analytics technology has been introduced to receive data of production from the manufacturing sites and use it for tax collection purposes.

The FBR allowed sugar mills to send final notice to authorised vendors for submitting their quotation for installation of VAS to the mills.

The FBR said the sugar mill will issue a work order to the finally selected vendor. The vendor is required to install the VA system in the sugar mill’s premises within 15 days.

“The case of non-compliance on

part of either of the parties (sugar mill or vendor) may be dealt with in accordance with the laws,” it said in a statement.