SWABI: The Senate Special Committee (SPC) led by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl Senator Maulana Attaur Rehman on Monday assured the tobacco growers and small cigarette makers of pushing for abolition of the Rs390 per kilogramme tax imposed by the government on tobacco as it was an ‘unjust’ levy.

The SPC members made the assurance during a visit to the district, where they met the farmers and small manufacturers.

The farmers informed them that the tax was also imposed during the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government, but was removed after the growers’ leaders and small cigarette manufacturers took it up with the then ruling party lawmakers.

The 10-member SPC has also visited Mardan, another tobacco growing district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Officials of the Federal Board of Revenue and exporters also accompanied them.

The growers demanded the tax should be withdrawn because it would have an adverse reaching impact on the farmers and industry as a whole as thousands of people would lose jobs.

The SPC members met with the growers at the residence of Jan Bahadar Khan, a small cigarette manufacturer.

Senator Rehman said the committee members had also met representatives of tobacco purchasing companies to get their feedback over the tax. He said the Senate chairman had formed the committee after the concerns of the stakeholders were raised by Senator Dilawar Khan.

Jamaat-i-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan, who is also a member of the SPC, said they would request the government to abolish the tax. He said the ‘unjust’ tax would be a blow to the agriculture sector as farmers would give up cultivating the crop and factories would lay off thousands of workers.

Briefing mediapersons, Jan Bahadar said they had recorded their strong protest and reservations against the tax. He said it was grave injustice that companies were purchasing tobacco from growers at Rs245 per kilogramme, but the government had imposed a whopping Rs390 per kilogramme tax.

He said Senator Rehman had assured them that the committee would soon submit its report to the Senate chairman, hoping the grievances of small cigarette manufacture and farmers would be addressed.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2022

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