PESHAWAR: Participants in a virtual pre-budget session on Sunday questioned the interference of international trade organizations in tobacco taxation in Pakistan and said the government should implement Senate committee recommendations to increase the tax on tobacco. tobacco.
The virtual pre-budget session was organized by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC).
Speaking on the occasion, Malik Imran Ahmad, country leader of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Children (CTFK), lamented the negative role of the Overseas Chamber of Commerce and the American Business Council of Pakistan in which these organizations were found demanding lower tobacco taxes in Pakistan. .
He wondered why these international organizations did not demand a reduction in tobacco taxation in their own countries. “These organizations protect the interests of the tobacco industries, while ignoring the economic and health disasters they cause,” he said.
He said that in the past the tobacco industry caused a huge loss of 153 billion rupees to the treasury between 2016 and 2019, by getting a low tax rate and adjusting the prices of their top-selling brands. .
“Almost 90% of all brands consumed in Pakistan were taxed as ‘low’ levels under the previous tax system (fiscal year 2016-2017). If their prices had remained the same, most would have been automatically reclassified as “average” (89% of them). However, we find that the big tobacco companies have deliberately adjusted the prices, which has resulted in a significant reduction in prices, causing 88% of the market to be taxed at the new lowest rate in the current tax system, ”he said. -he declares.
Malik Imran said the loss of income due to the introduction of low tobacco taxes was 77.85 billion rupees from 2016 to 2019 and the loss of income due to the price adjustments was 75 billion rupees of 2018 to 2019.
Khalil Ahmad, director of research and communication of SPARC, said that Pakistan is one of the 15 countries in the world with the heavy burden of tobacco-related health problems. He said about 1,200 Pakistani children between the ages of 6 and 15 start smoking every day according to the results of the 2015 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS).
Speaking on the occasion, Sanaullah Ghuman, secretary general of the Pakistan Heart Association (PANAH), said that given the fact that the prices of tobacco products are always within a minor’s range, Civil society organizations fighting for a better future generation of Pakistan are concerned. with the situation.