Raised FED on tobacco to help achieve revenue targets

ISLAMABAD   -   Anti-tobacco activists have cautioned that the government will miss the revenue target and the benefits gained through tax reforms if the Federal Excise Duty (FED) rate on cigarettes is not increased in the upcoming budget.

According to a fact-based study released by the Social Policy and Development Centre (SPDC), 31.6 million adults in Pakistan use tobacco, resulting in over 160,000 deaths annually. Smoking-related illnesses and deaths cost the country at least 1.4 per cent of its GDP annually.

However, the 2022-23 FED reforms on tobacco have generated good revenue, with collections reaching Rs 122 billion from July 2023 to January 2024.

The study further revealed that the reforms have not only increased revenue but also contributed to public health by reducing consumption and potentially recovering 17.8 percent of the total healthcare costs associated with smoking in Pakistan.

However, maintaining the current rate could result in a decrease in health recovery from 17.8% to 15.6% and to achieve similar health cost recovery levels observed in 2023-24, a 37% increase in the FED rate for the upcoming year is suggested, it added.

The anti-tobacco activists argued that tax increase will not promote illicit trade, as research evidence shows that certain groups in the tobacco sector manipulate their reported production to influence tax policy and evade taxes.

The study said the proposed tax rates for the budget 2024-25 aim to increase the FED share in retail price to 70%, generating additional revenue and promoting public health.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt