ISLAMABAD, March 23: Leaders Pakistan People’s Party, Pakistan Muslim League, PML (Quaid-i-Azam), Jamaat-i-Islami and Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf have strongly criticised imposition of 15 per cent general sales tax on medicines and described the step as a big blow to the poor and lower middle class.

PML Chairman Raja Zafarul Haq said the medical treatment for the poor people, which was already very difficult due to high drug prices, would become impossible after the levy of the GST.

He regretted that no economic relief was transferred to the common man, even if the tall claims of economic recovery were admitted as being true.

A PPP spokesman, in a statement, termed the levy of the GST on medicines, including life saving ones as a thoughtless and senseless move which would badly hit the poor and impoverished people. He said the accumulated effect on prices of medicines will be more than 22 per cent as GST was already levied on packing materials, vials and bottles.

Thus denied access to essential drugs, the poor and hapless people will now die more quickly as the junta avails itself of the state of the art medical facilities at its military hospitals run with public money, the spokesman said.

PML(QA) Secretary-General Gohar Ayub Khan, in his statement, described levy of the GST as being most unreasonable move and demanded its immediate withdrawal keeping in view the vulnerable condition of the masses. He said that medical care for the poor had already diminished due to raise in gas, petrol, water and electricity tariffs and in such circumstances increase in medicine prices would be cruel.

Jamaat deputy chief Liaqat Baloch said the prices were increased on the dictates of the International Monetary Fund.

PTI chief Imran Khan said the poor were being deprived of their right to live a healthy life. The prices of medicines, he said, specially those required for cancer treatment were too high for the poor patients and the increase would make it impossible for them to get treatment.

A PML spokesman termed the government’s claim of diverting the GST earnings to the health sector a crude joke with the poor people.

In a statement, he said the GST would eliminate poor people’s access to medicines.

He pointed out that it was under the IMF and World Bank’s agenda that subsidies on gas, electricity, petrol, wheat, sugar, fertiliser and other consumer goods were being gradually withdrawn.

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