SWABI: Leaders of tobacco growers after a meeting with their loya jirga members here on Saturday said that the farmers were passing through a worst financial crisis due to wrong policies of the government and flawed approach of the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) and companies.

Addressing a press conference, Ittehad Kashthkaran general secretary and Tobacco Growers Association Pakistan central president Liaquat Yousafzai said that a crop status should be given to tobacco like cotton so that exploitation of farmers could be stopped by the tobacco companies.

Flanked by other leaders and jirga members, he said the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments were earning Rs130-150 billion every year through central excise duty and other taxes on tobacco. He demanded that10 per cent of the total amount should be spent on the welfare of tobacco growers in the crop cultivation districts of the province.

Say 10pc of total taxes should be spent on welfare of growers

Mr Yousafzai and other leaders sought provision of financial assistance to the growers because the expenditures on growing and curing the crop had increased manifold. They said the past practice was that tobacco purchasing centres were established by the companies in the cultivating regions, but this was no longer the situation. He said the farmers wanted that buying points of the purchasers must be in the crop growing areas.

They claimed that various small cigarette manufacturers had shifted their business to Azad Kashmir because the environment here was not friendly for the investors. They demanded that the government should devise policies to attract investors to the tobacco growing regions.

Ittehad Kashthkaran president Arif Ali Khan said the companies should conduct a survey to know about the farmers’ tobacco furnaces and agreements should be issued to them on that basis.

They said about 800,000 kilogrammes tobacco had still been lying with growers which should be picked up by the companies.

They said a meeting of the growers and jirga members would be held on Tuesday.

PML-N POWER SHOW: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz held a big public meeting here on Friday before close of the local government election campaign at midnight.

Party’s provincial president Amir Muqam and workers from across the district attended the gathering held at Chota Lahor for Adil Khan, the party’s candidate for Chota Lahor tehsil chairman slot.

On this occasion, Mr Muqam castigated the ruling party, saying its leaders propagating the slogan of ‘change’ had made life miserable for the people. He said the LG elections would prove to be the last nail in the coffin of the PTI government.

Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2021

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