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January 13, 2021

Implementation of HLB on cigarettes urged

Islamabad

January 13, 2021

Islamabad : Health and tobacco control activists urged the government on Tuesday to take notice of the delay in implementation of Health Levy Bill (HLB) on cigarettes and sugary drinks that was approved by the federal cabinet in 2019.

Addressing a press conference here at National Press Club Islamabad, Human Development Foundation (HDF), Society for the Protection of the Rights of Child (SPARC) and Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) asked the government to recall about the Health Levy Bill, passed by the cabinet in 2019 and is yet not implemented.

Syed Anis Bilal, Project Lead, HDF stated that FBR is responsible for delay in the implementation of health levy bill. Currently, the economic situation in Pakistan is unstable and government is in need of revenues which can be utilised for financing government scheme like Universal Health Coverage. Noncompliance in implementation of health levy bill has already cost the government a total of Rs55 billion in revenues last year. Revenue generated from the health levy bill can be utilised for pandemic control and guarantee better health for our people.

Sanaullah Ghumman, General secretary, PANAH shared that in their pursuit on the current status of Health Levy bill, they found that the bill has been going back and forth between FBR, Health Ministry and Finance Ministry. He mentioned that FBR shared in writing that it does not have any issues with the implementation of health levy bill. The Federal Ministry of Finance has given a written assurance to the Federal Ombudsman for taking necessary steps for the implementation of the Health Levy Bill. Hearing was held in Federal Ombudsman on the petition filed by PANAH in the presence of Senior Health Adviser of the Federal Ombudsman regarding health levy bill. A member of the Finance Ministry informed the Federal Ombudsman in writing that public health is one of the main priorities of the government; therefore, it was assured that necessary steps will be taken as soon as possible to implement the health levy bill.