PESHAWAR: Tobacco farmers and office-bearers of Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organisation have demanded of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government to provide relief and avoid imposing advance tax on them in the wake of coronavirus pandemic.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, leaders of different organisations of tobacco growers and unions of industrial labour workers from KP, including Kisan Board Pakistan, Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organisation, Pakistan Tobacco Workers Association, Anjuman Tahaffuz Haqooq-i-Kashtkaran and Labours Federation said that tobacco was the only cash crop in the province which had been contributing billions of rupees to national exchequer as central excise duty and also providing sustenance to numerous people.

They said that advance tax on tobacco would ruin the growers and farmers of KP and lead to monopoly of multinational tobacco companies in Pakistan, which would result in massive unemployment.

They said the companies used to exploit local tobacco industry and growers as they bought tobacco from farmers on lower rates.

The growers demanded of the government that instead of forcing them to pay advance tax it should impose taxes on the cigarette products.

They said in the wake of Covid-19 and decrease in production due to hailstorm the government should avoid imposing the direct advance tax.

Mehnatkash Labour Federation president Ibrarullah said that local tobacco sector had been providing jobs to thousands of workers, while the multinational companies had terminated hundreds of workers.

He claimed that Pakistan Tobacco Company, Akora Khattak, had refused to acknowledge Mahnatkash Labour Union, which was registered with the Pakistan Labour Department.

AnjumanTahffuz Haqooq-i-Kashtkaran president Haji Niamatullah said that there were suggestions to impose Rs500/kg advance tax on tobacco in 2020-21 budget, which would burden the growers.

Published in Dawn, June 3rd, 2020