Tobacco growers demand abolition of new tax

Argue the levy will hurt small farmers, render thousands jobless

Our Correspondent April 11, 2019
A farmer harvests tobacco leaves at a plantation in the valley of Vinales. PHOTO: REUTERS

ISLAMABAD: Growers of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) have asked the government to immediately withdraw a newly announced additional tax of Rs300 per kg on tobacco.

Representatives and office-bearers of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Labour Federation, Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organisation and tobacco growers of K-P made the demand at a press conference on Wednesday.

They also demanded that the government take action against illegal closure of factories under the Factory Act 1934. They called for restoring services of suspended permanent employees of a major cigarette manufacturing company.

They warned the government that if the difficulties faced by the tobacco sector were not resolved, the K-P growers would take to the streets to press for their demands.

K-P Labour Federation President Ibrarullah pointed out that the tobacco sector of the province was annually contributing Rs100 billion to the national exchequer, but the newly introduced tax of Rs300 per kg on tobacco growers would hit them hard.

Representatives of K-P Labour Federation and Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organisation said application of the new tax would render thousands of workers, growers and labourers associated with the tobacco sector jobless, leading to a sharp increase in unemployment across the country.

Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organisation Provincial President Haji Abdul Nabi alleged that employees of cigarette companies were being deprived of health facilities through the social security system. Similarly, benefits of the Workers Welfare Fund have been withheld by laying off 6,300 technical workers.

He termed the Rs300-per-kg tax on tobacco a planned move of major cigarette companies in connivance with the bureaucracy. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 11th, 2019.

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