Shergarh: A meeting was held today at Shergarh in which farmers and industry labor unions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa protested against imposition of Rs 500 advance tax on tobacco leaf.
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 Labor Federation and Dealers Association along with hundreds of workers gathered at the location.
They requested the Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan to take notice of additional tax of Rs 500 per kg on tobacco leaf during upcoming budget 2020/21 as this tax would bring end to the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of families directly dependent upon the tobacco sector.
The representatives blamed that the multinational tobacco companies operating in Pakistan are having strong lobby within decision making authorities of governments. This lobby has pushed the government to mull such brutal tax directly on tobacco leaf. Through this tax, local buyers of tobacco would lose strength to purchase tobacco from the farmers, resultantly these multinational 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 multinational companies would then look towards international markets in a bid to fulfill the local demand of the cigarette market which will directly affect national economy and tax collections in return. Tobacco is the only cash crop of KP through which the government earns billion 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 multinational companies are up to create chaos in the country. After offloading thousands of permanent workers, they now want to uproot hundreds of thousands of tobacco farmers. They blamed that these multinational companies forcefully selling wood which is used in processing tobacco leaf at the rate of Rs 700 instead of Rs 500. Moreover various fertilisers and agriculture medicine is being sold to us forcibly. Tobacco is the main crop of KP. Multinational companies are at their best to kill the agriculture sector of Pakistan.
Multinational companies are lobbying over tobacco tax which will directly affect tobacco grower, industry labour and the. Government revenues. Government will not be able to get revenues from higher s actor if there is no grower. Farmer will be deprived off the cash crop and industry labour will go jobless. They are deceiving the government through false targets. Factually tobacco exports have gone down as well as the government revenues.
The representatives said that last year through intervention of Asad Qaiser, the PTI government rejected such additional tax of Rs 300 over which they thanked the PM Imran Khan as it was a huge relief for the tobacco growers.
This year too, the unions pleading him to look after the matters of this sector. The representatives said that they are maintaining a high hopes with the decision makers so that their livelihood might not get hurt.
1- Remove additional tax on tobacco leaf and put tax on cigarette pack.
2- If tax imposed, growth of tobacco crop will d cline, resultantly national economy will affect badly.
3- Multinational companies have suspended thousands of workers. Government should take action on this matter.
4- Multinational companies are working against national economy. After thorough inquiry culprits should be punished.