Tobacco growers urge government to abolish advance tax

ISLAMABAD: Following the government’s reluctance of accepting demands of the tobacco growers regarding advance tax, the growers have decided to launch a protest in Islamabad against the imposition of taxes on tobacco crops.

While addressing a press conference here at National Press Club on Tuesday President Kissan Board Rizwan Ullah said that the growers have unanimously rejected the Rs 380 per kg advance tax on tobacco.

While urging the government to withdraw Rs380 per kilogram advance tax on the tobacco leaf, the growers have announced that in case of further delay in abolishment of the tax they would stage a protest in Islamabad.

He claimed that imposition of the advance tax on the tobacco crop was the result of a nexus between the government officials and multinational tobacco companies. He said the tax was aimed at eliminating the local tobacco industry and purchasing the crop from farmers at cheaper rates.

Addressing the press conference President Mehnatkash Labour Federation Ibrar Ullah said that the price of tobacco per kilogram in the open market was Rs256 per kilogram while the advance tax on it was Rs380 per kilogram.

He said the advance tax on the tobacco leaf was hurting the sale of the crop in the market and this would render over 15,000 laborers and 20,000 families of the farmers jobless.

He said that all farmers from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province would stage a sit-in in Islamabad if the advance tax on the crop was not withdrawn.

President of Tobacco Growers Association of Pakistan Liaqat Yousafzai termed the imposition of the advance tax on the tobacco crop as “public enmity.” He said that rates of tobacco were increasing the world over while they were decreasing in Pakistan.

The farmers in Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda, Boner and Mansehra grow the tobacco crop and they have urged the government to facilitate them by withdrawing the advance tax on it.

Other speakers on the occasion said the government was collecting billions of rupees annually in taxes through this crop, but it was not ready to provide relief to the public. They said the government should facilitate the farmers in sowing and harvesting of the crop as this was contributing billions of rupees in taxes annually.

Naimat Shah Roghani, president of farmers rights protection organization, said that imposition of the advance tax on the tobacco crop was the result of a nexus between the government officials and multinational tobacco companies. He said the tax was aimed at eliminating the local tobacco industry and buying the crop from farmers at cheaper rates.

All tobacco farmers of the KP province have warned the government of protests in front of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in Islamabad and to block the motorways if it failed to withdraw the advance tax of Rs380 per kilogram.

Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]

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