ISLAMABAD: Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) has expressed its serious disappointment on delay in imposition of levy on tobacco products. Addressing a seminar, Sajjad Ahmed Cheema, Executive Director, SPARC informed that in June 2019, the federal cabinet decided to implement a health levy on tobacco products meant to increase the price of tobacco products and make them unaffordable for low-income groups and children. However, this bill has been going back and forth between FBR, Health Ministry and Finance Ministry.
The FBR has mentioned in written that it doesn't have any issues with implementation of health levy. Hence the delay in this matter is a disappointing shock because it shows that public health is not a priority matter for our government.
Malik Imran Ahmad, Country Head Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) demanded an investigation to determine why the decision of the federal cabinet to impose a health levy on tobacco could not be implemented.
He demanded of the Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice. As a result of non implementation of the bill the country has lost Rs 55 billion last year. Health levy on cigarettes and sugary drinks would have generated Rs 55 billion in revenue which could be used for healthcare infrastructure.
Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif, Member Senate of Pakistan said that an average, in Pakistan, smokers spend 10% of their average monthly income on cigarettes. When people spend their income on tobacco products, they are left with less money available for essential services such as child nutrition and education.
He added that raising tobacco taxes is a proven policy to help reduce tobacco consumption as per the WHO's recommendations. According to World Bank Report Pakistan should annually increase the excise rates by at least 30% on cigarettes to ensure the reduction in cigarette consumption and the growth of tobacco revenue.-PR
Copyright Business Recorder, 2020