World lender’s input on uniform duties on cigarettes lauded

ISLAMABAD    -  Welcoming the reports that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked Paki­stan to impose uniform ex­cise rates on both local and foreign cigarette producers, the stakeholders have said that now the main respon­sibility lies with the sitting government to ensure a uni­form taxation and duties on tobacco producers.

“It is a welcoming gesture that the international lender has asked the government of Pakistan to slap uniform taxes and duties on both local and foreign cigarette producers to ensure a level playing field,” said an Islamabad-based think-tank, Capital Calling, here on Wednesday.

It also appreciated former health minister Dr Nadeem Jan calling for a 50 percent increase in taxes on ciga­rettes to make them harder to access for the masses. 

The think tank has en­dorsed the minister’s state­ment rubbishing the propa­ganda that increase in taxes will lead to smuggling of cig­arettes, resulting in a loss to the national exchequer. 

According to estimates, cig­arette prices are the cheapest in Pakistan compared to oth­er regional countries, it said. 

The reports on IMF rec­ommendations mention that it has suggested applying a consistent excise rate in one slab to all domestically pro­duced cigarettes, regardless of the manufacturer’s origin.

It means local and multina­tional manufacturers will face no discrimination in taxes.

The objective of these rec­ommendations is to ensure equitable taxation across cigarette products, regard­less of their source.

The think tank stated that it is estimated that the gov­ernment has faced Rs567 billion loss due to influence of the international tobacco companies. 

It said there is a dearth of re­search to measure the damage that smoking has done to the society. The survey conducted to assess this damage is high­ly tilted towards economics, hence offering no solutions as to how to bring down smok­ing in the society.

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