ISLAMABAD: Tobacco growers of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa have sought an amendment in the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) Ordinance, 1968 to ensure protection of rights of farmers and developing an effective mechanism for procurement of crop by the companies.
The PTB Ordinance should be amended and growers should be given their due rights, said farmer’s representatives, Ayaz Khan and Asfandayr, while addressing a press conference. They said that 80 percent of tobacco production in the country is cultivated in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
Out of total production of tobacco in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, 38 percent is in Swabi, 25 percent in Mardan, 15 percent each in Charsadda and Nowshera, six percent in Buner, and three percent in Mansehra, they said.
They said that government needs to constitute a committee for protection of rights of farmers as well as set up of welfare fund for tobacco growers.
Farmers’ representative said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) managed to collect Rs 135 billion in taxes from the tobacco sector during fiscal year 2020-21 but the federal government did not even spend a single penny on their welfare.
Besides these taxes, the government also collects tobacco development cess of Rs 860 million and district tax of Rs 360 million, they said, adding that the government should allocate seven percent of these taxes for the welfare of the tobacco growers.
They said that the government needs to conduct cost of production (COP) survey through a third party, in order to ensure appropriate calculation of cost of production.
The third-party audit team should contact select real growers for collection of data, they said.
The growers also asked the government to establish a chamber of agriculture on the pattern of chamber of commerce to resolve farmer’s grievances and frame a mechanism for the tobacco crop production and its procurement by the companies.
The growers also suggested that tobacco companies, must earmark funds under the Corporate Social Responsibilities laws to ameliorate the sufferings of the affected growers during ailments, calamities, and natural disasters.
In many countries, corporates cut their expenses to facilitate and reward the main producer, they said.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021