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Proposal for open discussion on tobacco turned down

Islamabad

June 9, 2020

Islamabad:The government has turned down a proposal eying holding an open and comprehensive discussion of the stakeholders of tobacco sector for the budget of next fiscal year.

All Pakistan Cigarette Manufacturing Association (APCMA) proposed the idea in a letter to FBR chairperson Nausheen Javed Amjad. The letter was sent by APCMA Secretary Ashfaqur Rehman on May 21. The APCMA represents local manufacturers of cigarettes based in the province of Khyber Pakhtun­khwa which is also recognised as one of the finest tobacco producing areas of Pakistan.

“The FBR has once again succumbed to pressure of the multinational companies and avoided to hold the meeting for an open discussion of the stakeholders,” officials said.They said that the purpose of the meeting and discussion was to explore options to enhance tax collection and safeguard the local industry by addressing their concerns.

According to a statement, the APCMA proposed the FBR to convene open discussion in which all the stakeholders of tobacco sector may be invited which includes but not limited to civil society. Multinational Tobacco Companies, National Tobacco Companies, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Finance and others should be part of this discussion, it was proposed.

“The purpose of the open discussion is to reach a consensus on a proposal which will be viable for all the stakeholders of the tobacco sector prevalent in the country,” the letter said. The objective of reaching a conclusive proposal for the upcoming budget to prevent controversies that rise every year by different quarters after the Finance Bill has been laid before the National Assembly for approval.

Further, the degree of accuracy in collection of information used by various agencies and other parameter, like Enforcement, Compliance etc. should also be discussed by FBR and agreed upon beforehand with the stakeholders In order to avoid any difficulty that might be faced by all/any of the stakeholders of tobacco sector/ or by FBR, the letter said.

“We hope that your good self would look into this proposal of APCMA and will consider it favourably for not only protecting the legitimate concerns of the tobacco sector but for also securing targeted revenue to be collected from the tobacco sector in the upcoming financial year in the best public interest, especially when the economy of the country is badly hit by the pandemic caused by Corona Virus (Covid-19) and FBR is lagging way behind the envisaged target of tax collection for current fiscal year,” the letter said.