Researchers for uniform taxes on tobacco products

ISLAMABAD    -   Researchers have hailed the firm stance of International Monitory Fund (IMF) recommending for uniformed tax on tobacco products in the upcoming budget in Pakistan regardless of their national or foreign branding.

“The IMF reports about recommendation for over 20 percent tax raise on tobacco products are encouraging as it would not only increase the national tax collection but also control tobacco consumption,” said the Islamabad-based think tank, Capital Calling with reference to the IMF recommendations on tax mechanism in Pakistan.

In his remarks, Dr Hassan Shehzad from IIUI said that estimates show that tobacco industry can do good with 40 percent tax raise in the coming budget.

He was of the view that copious research reports have found that if cigarette price increases its demand decreases.

He said that during a survey of the major cities of the country, it was found that one in 94 smokers had quit smoking after its price increase.

Rise in illicit trade was another cause of concern, he said and expressed shock on the WHO findings stating that illicit trade market in Pakistan (of tobacco products) ranges from 9 to17 percent of the total cigarette market.

Prof Muhammad Zaman, head of Zaman Research Centre at Quaid-i-Azam University, said the volume of illicit trade in Pakistan was double than the global average. He also said that the government should take corrective measures to stop this practice.

He said both the illicit trade and lower taxes on tobacco products are playing havoc with public health. The government should work on both these points at the earliest, he said.

The fresh data shows that overall, the illicit trade of cigarettes in Pakistan accounted for 23.1% of the total trade. Locally produced cigarettes without a stamp of the tax authority are considered illicit products and account for 10.4% of the total number of packs.

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