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ISLAMABAD, Dec 23 (APP): Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed Wednesday gave a one-week deadline to the smugglers of petroleum products to end the practice and warned of strict punitive action against anyone found involved in the illegal trade that was undermining national economy.

Describing it as an “important political decision”, the interior minister said he had been tasked by Prime Minister Imran Khan to ensure that the sale of smuggled petrol across the country came to an immediate end.

He was talking to the media after attending a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss anti-smuggling measures, with specific focus on oil smuggling.

The meeting was attended by ministers for interior, finance and maritime affairs, advisor on commerce, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman and senior officials.

The minister said the prime minister was appreciative of the FBR’s role in curbing the smuggling of mobile phones into the country, which saved a revenue of US$ 2 billion as well as billions by putting a check on smuggled garments.

It not only led to growth in revenues, but also boosted the country’s textile industry, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.

The interior minister said a media campaign would also be launched to create awareness among the masses and to encourage them to report the sale of smuggled or substandard petroleum products, which, besides causing revenue loss, was also damaging the vehicles,
He said within seven days all the petrol pumps, which were involved in the practice, would face a strict punitive action with forfeiture of their licenses and they would not be allowed to operate again.

Sheikh Rashid was optimistic that the above measure alone would save the government around 2 billion dollars.

He said the provincial chief secretaries had been given the directions to check the smuggling of petrol.

The minister said the FBR had been tasked by the prime minister to curb smuggling of goods worth US$ 7 billion, that was eroding the national wealth.