ISLAMABAD: Anti-tobacco activists have proposed Ministry of Finance at least Rs 20 increase in the Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes under different FED slabs/tiers in upcoming annual budget 2020-21 to enhance revenue collection of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and discourage tobacco use during next fiscal year.

This was the crux of the “pre-budget press conference" jointly held by Human Development Foundation (HDF), Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) and Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) on higher taxes on cigarettes for improved Health and Economy" held here on Wednesday at National Press Club Islamabad.

Azhar Saleem, CEO, Human Development Foundation (HDF) said that the country is facing a severe shortage of funds to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19). He further added that through changes in the taxation structure, tobacco industry has been evading taxes at the cost of the lives of people. The government needs to keep in mind the growing inflation rate while finalizing the taxes on tobacco products for fiscal year 2020-2021. He urged the government to increase FED on tobacco products by Rs20 for each slab of tobacco tax structure. Sana Ullah Ghuman, Secretary General, Pakistan National Heart Association said the government needs to adopt a futuristic approach and channelize the additional revenues into situations where financial setbacks are faced such as the current pandemic of coronavirus.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020