• July 24, 2024

Activists Lament Tax Plans

 Activists Lament Tax Plans
Photo: mrizwan

Pakistan’s decision to maintain cigarette tax rates at their current level represents a missed opportunity, according to health activists, reports Business Recorder.

Speaking at a forum organized by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, former Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Murtaza Solangi said the revenue could have been invested in public health, easing the economic burden on Pakistan’s healthcare system.

Instead, he said, maintaining current tax rates benefits cigarette manufacturers without additional excise tax contributions, undermining tobacco control efforts and worsening the public health problems caused by tobacco use.

“The government’s decision to spare the cigarette industry from any tax hike, despite the need to generate additional revenue to address the fiscal deficit, is concerning,” said Muhammad Asif Iqbal, director of the Social Policy and Development Center.

He said that the government was unlikely to achieve its cigarette tax collection target of PKR324 billion ($1.16 billion) for 2024-2025 at current rates.

Malik Imran Ahmed, country head of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids, said the prevailing rules allowed cigarette manufacturers to increase consumer prices without contributing more to excise tax revenue.

This situation, he said, not only undermines tobacco control efforts but also risks exacerbating the public health problems caused by tobacco consumption.