TD Report | Our Correspondent
ISLAMABAD: Anti-tobacco activists expressed their rage saying the government could have generated 1900 billion revenues by implementing taxes on tobacco products. They were expressing their concerns during a session aiming to brief about the damages the tobacco industry has made to the national exchequer and the youth.
Malik Imran Ahmed, Country Head, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (CTFK) who has been striving to protect our youth from the tobacco menace expressed his rage saying the government could have generated 1900 billion revenues by implementing taxes on tobacco products.
He quoted the industry analyst data according to which 110 billion has been collected from the sector in last year. This collected amount from the sector does not even cover the health cost which is 615 billion. There is clear tax evasion, tobacco mafia has a strong lobby because, despite the win-win situation, the tobacco tax could not be implemented.
He also mentioned that from the past 5 years there is no significant tax increase on cigarettes. In 2017, the tax collected from the tobacco industry was Rs82 billion which has increased to Rs 110 billion during the current fiscal year.
Khalil Ahmed, Program Manager Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) has also expressed his disappointment over not inflating taxes on cigarette packs in the federal budget 2021-22 despite the recommendations of the health ministry. He requested the government to initiate measures to ensure the implementation of all relevant laws to enhance tobacco tax to generate revenue and reduce the health burden. He also mentioned that keeping in view the health situation especially in the pandemic, taxation in the tobacco sector must be improved.
Due to inflation, the prices of all-in prices of all products have increased including edible items, surprisingly the tobacco industry did not increase the prices of cigarettes during the last five years which is proof that it is involved in dodging. It is our mission to protect youth from the hazards of tobacco and we will keep on working for the mission, he said.