ISLAMABAD: The Social Policy Development Centre (SPDC) has proposed a 37 percent increase in Federal Excise Duty (FED) on tobacco products in the coming budget (2024-25).

This has been mentioned in the SPDC’s new policy paper, “Recovering Healthcare Costs and Saving Lives” that aligns recommendations of World Health Organization (WHO) and Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK).“

The paper revealed that Pakistan can save as many as 265,000 lives, generate Rs 37.7 billion additional revenue and push 757,000 people to quit smoking through increasing the FED by 37 percent.

Cigarettes remain top revenue spinner of FED

The proposal comes as the government prepares to outline its budgetary agenda, in a bid prioritize public health and economic prosperity through targeted tobacco tax reforms.

Pakistan has two-tiered system of FED on cigarettes. The country made significant strides and increased the FED on cigarettes in 2022-23 with substantial increase in FED. The current FED share in retail prices is 48 percent and 68 percent respectively for low and high tiers.

The SPDC report stated that if the rates (FED) are not increased and the trend is not maintained, it can negatively affect both the revenue and public health efforts. Therefore, FED should be further adjusted, in line with international standards, to take the tax share of retail prices towards 70 percent.

The proposal seeks to take the FED share to 54 percent or Rs 154 and 72.1 percent or Rs 452 for economy and premium brands, respectively.

The proposal is backed by the gains of previous tax adjustments, which have demonstrated tangible reductions in smoking rates and significant financial gains for the government.

According to details, revenue collection from July 2023 to January 2024 has reached Rs 122 billion and figure expected to surpass Rs 200 billion by year-end.

Beyond revenue generation, it helped in reducing smoking rates and potentially recouping 17.8% of total healthcare costs associated with smoking-related illnesses in Pakistan.

Addressing the argument that the increase in FED would result in increase of illicit trade, the SPDC said that research studies have proved that this argument lacks empirical support, with evidence showing that tobacco companies manipulate production figures to influence tax policies and evade taxes.

In addition, it said that the track and trace system is expected to reduce counterfeiting, curb illicit trade and keep check on frontloading.

Pakistan is among the countries where smoking has high prevalence. The data showed that a staggering 31.6 million adults—equivalent to nearly 20% of the adult population—use tobacco products in Pakistan, it added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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Yourname May 06, 2024 10:44am
They may make the tax 6000% if they’d like, unless they can stop smuggled cigarettes it won’t make a difference. Funny how “imported” cigarettes are cheaper in wholesale markets.
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Yourname May 06, 2024 10:46am
Increasing tax is a simple legislation, actively doing what is necessary, and I don’t mean getting bribe money, actually doing your duties, that’s the hard part.
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