Vice President Anjumn-e-Kashtkaran Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Haji Namat Shah Roghani has said that despite being cultivated only on 0.25 percent of cultivable land across the country, tobacco contributes Rs 114 billion per annum to federal exchequer in shape of sales tax and FED.
Talking to media persons here on Friday, he said that due to terrorist attacks and poor situation from decades, all other business and employment sources have been destroyed. He added that the only mean of earning is tobacco farming but unfortunately increase in taxes made impossible for poor farmers to continue its cultivation.
The VP Anjumn-e-Kashtkaran KP said that that government has imposed federal excise duty Rs 10, advance withholding tax Rs 8.8, federal government Cess Rs 3.67 and provincial excise cess Rs 5 on per kg of tobacco. He added that all these taxes were deducted from the farmers in tobacco prices by tobacco companies. “This was the reason that in 2017 there was no competition in tobacco market and tobacco prices were below our own cost”, he added.
He further said that after agitation by the farmers in market Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) and other regulatory bodies forced the companies for buying but due to high taxes and price remained lower than farmers actual cost they faced huge losses.
He added that another reason for losses to farmers was reduction in cigarettes and 50 percent reduction in excise duty by creation of third slab. “Companies were allowed by government to reduce the cigarettes prices and due to this reason they did not pay fair prices to tobacco farmers which resulted in billions of losses to farmers, besides reduction in price of 3rd slab’s cigarettes”, he added. Namat Shah said that government of Pakistan has violated an agreement, Frame Work convention on tobacco control (FCTC) signed in 2004 with world health organization (WHO). This agreement was for discouraging smoking by taking price and non price measures but in 2017 budget these clauses were violated by decreasing in cigarettes price from Rs 72 to Rs 50 per packet, he added.
The Vice President of Anjumn-e-Kashtkaran KP demanded of the government to declare tobacco a normal crop like other crops in terms of taxation. He demanded that 5 percent advance withholding tax, FED on tobacco leaf Rs 10 per kg and federal government cess Rs 3.67 per kg on tobacco leaf must be include in federal excise duty on cigarette production instead of imposition on tobacco crop.
Haji Namat Shah Rogani said that tobacco farmers of Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda, Nowshera, Buner, Swat and Mansehra district has collectively requested the government to fulfill our demands and provide relief to the poor farmers of tobacco.—INP