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Tobacco farmers, industrial workers ask NA speaker to rescue them

Islamabad

May 30, 2020

Islamabad : Tobacco farmers and industrial workers have sought National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser’s intervention against the imposition of advance tax to save thousands of job and the local industry.

“We demand the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government do not increase the existing advance tax on tobacco,” reads a letter by the representatives of industrial workers and farmers to the speaker.

The letter recalled the fact that it was because of the speaker’s intervention that the government withdrew the decision to impose Rs300 advance tax in 2019.

“We request you to help the tobacco farmers and industrial workers to help us again,” the letter said.

The letter explained that multinational companies are trying their best that the government enhances advance tax on tobacco which will annihilate the local industry and help establish their monopoly.

Farmers said they fear “exploitation” at the hands of the multinational companies once their monopoly is established.

“We request you to help the tobacco farmers and industrial workers once again,” the letter said.

The local tobacco industry is providing more than 20,000 jobs whereas the multinationals were known for throwing people out of jobs.

Last year, the government proposed imposition of Rs 300 advance tax per kilogram on tobacco which triggered protests and demonstrations by the farmers and industrial workers.

Under the proposals, farmers had to sell the crop for Rs130 per kilogram to the tobacco companies but they would have to pay Rs300 tax per kilogram.

According to details, there were more than 22 small companies in the province which was producing 98 per cent of the tobacco crop in areas including Buner and Mansehra, Shergarh in Mardan and Charsadda and Swabi districts. Swabi is considered to be major producer where tobacco not only a cash crop but the lone source of livelihood for millions of households.

Signatories of the letter sent to the NA Speaker include, Abrar Ullah, president president Mehnat Kash Labour Federation, Rizwanullah, president, Kisan Board Pakistan, Haji Abdul Nabi Mohmand, president Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organisation, Liaqat Yousafzai, president Tahaffuz Haqooq Kashtkaran and Mohammad Iqbal, Mazdoor Kisaan Coordinator.