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KARACHI: A joint press conference has been organised by Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH), Diabetic Association of Pakistan, Nation Development Organisation, Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance, Pakistan Medical Association, National Commission on the Rights of Children, Child Rights Movement, Pakistan Family Physicians, Senior physician Forum, Pakistan Kidney Patient Association and other public health advocates.

Accompanying on the occasion were former commissioner Income Tax Hafeez Khan, former MPA Tehseen Fawad, PP-16 General Secretary Noorin Gilani, PANAH Vice President Ghulam Abbas, Scanning Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance Coordinator Alia Habib, Civil Society, Medical.

A large number of social, legal, educational and journalistic experts and others participated in the conference.

The purpose of this press conference is to expose interference of beverage industry in fiscal policies by Government of Pakistan in Budget 2021-22.

Sana Ullah Ghumman, General Secretary, Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) said that Ministry of National Health Services, Regulations and Coordination has submitted a strong proposal to FBR for increasing FED on Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) to minimum of 20 percent.

Considering the importance of this policy change, Minister for Health Dr Faisal Sultan wrote a letter to the Minister for Finance requesting his personal attention for increasing FED on SSBs. All above organisations endorsed the proposal and wrote letters to policy makers at FBR and Ministry of Finance for increasing FED to 20 percent in the budget.

“However, we are saddened to note that after the meeting of beverage industry with Minister for Finance and later with Prime Minister of Pakistan, the industry succeeded to push back this life saving proposal. We are highly concerned and record our protest on the approach of our political leadership for stopping this life saving policy change in exchange for profits of the beverage industry. The interest of beverage industry has been given preference over the life of our children and young adults who are victims of these unhealthy beverages,” it said.

Sana Ullah Ghumman said that “we request Prime Minister of Pakistan and Finance Minister to reconsider their decision and urge our parliamentarians and opposition parties for supporting this life saving policy of increasing FED on SSBs in the budget.”

Professor Dr Abdul Basit, General Secretary, Diabetic Association of Pakistan said that high consumption of Sugar Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) like sodas, juices and energy drinks by adults and children in Pakistan is one of the major causes of obesity and related NCDs like heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, liver and kidney diseases, some types of cancers, and even tooth decay.

Tahseen Fawad, Chairperson Nation Development Organization, said “we are active for the development of the nation; no nation can develop without a healthy lifestyle.”

A series of questions and answers began at the end of the press conference, after which the event came to an end.—PR

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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