ISLAMABAD: Seven leading associations of farmers and labour industry from the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have approached Prime Minister Imran Khan to avert a major attempt of the cigarette manufacturers and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to increase advance tax on tobacco leaf up to Rs 500 per kg in budget 2020-2021.

In a collective representation, the farmers and industry labour unions of the KP on Saturday, requested the prime minister to take notice of additional tax of Rs500 per kg on tobacco leaf during upcoming budget 2020-2021 as this tax would bring an end to the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of families directly dependent upon the tobacco sector.

In this connection, the senior representatives of Kissan Board Pakistan, Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organization, Pakistan Tobacco Growers Association, Anjuman Tahaffuz Huqooq Kashtkaraan, Kashtkaar Coordination Council, Mehnat Kash Labour Federation and Dealers Association along with hundreds of workers gathered at Munsif Dar, Swabi to register their protest against possible imposition of such unjustified tax.

They also requested National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and to the elected members of both national and provincial assemblies to take hold of this situation and to hold any imposition of such brutal tax, which would be enough to roll back huge tobacco sector from the KP.

The representatives blamed that the tobacco companies operating in Pakistan are having strong lobby within decision making authorities of governments. This lobby has pushed the government to impose advance tax directly on tobacco leaf.

Through this tax, local buyers of tobacco would lose strength purchasing tobacco from the farmers, resultantly these companies would enjoy full authority of the tobacco leaf and can easily exploit tobacco farmers according to their very own will. The representatives lamented that these companies would then look towards international markets in a bid to fulfill the local demand of cigarette market, which will directly affect national economy and tax collections in return.

Tobacco is the only cash crop of the KP through which government earns billions of rupees in terms of taxes every year.

Imposition of any such tax would badly affect this sector as hundreds of thousands of workers associated with this sector would go jobless and the thousands of families dependent upon them would face the impact. The representatives said that last year through intervention of Asad Qaiser, the PTI government rejected such additional tax of Rs300, over which they thanked him as it was a huge relief for the tobacco growers.

This year too, the unions pleaded him, after which he helped in standing committee look after the matters of the sector.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020