Tobacco producers urge government to withdraw withholding tax – Business & Finance

ISLAMABAD: Tobacco growers on Monday urged the government to withdraw the advance tax of Rs 390 per kilogram on tobacco leaf; if not, they would organize a demonstration in the federal capital.

After the enactment of the (Second) Tax Laws Amendment Ordinance of 2022 on Monday, Mehnatkash Labor Federation Chairman Ibrar Ullah and the farmers’ associations jointly held a press conference at the National Press Club on Monday.

Commenting on the implications of the order, Ibrar Ullah informed that the price of tobacco per kilogram in the open market was 256 rupees per kilogram while the anticipated tax on it was 390 rupees per kilogram.

He said the advance tobacco leaf tax was hurting the sale of the crop in the market and would render more than 15,000 laborers and 20,000 farming families jobless.

Chairman Kissan Board Rizwan Ullah also rejected the imposition of the advance tax on the crop, saying the government was destroying the ripe harvest of the farmers by such tactics instead of giving them relief.

He said that all farmers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province would stage a sit-in in Islamabad if the advance harvest tax was not removed.

Liaqat Yousafzai of the Kashtkar Coordinating Council, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, called the imposition of the advance tax on tobacco harvesting a “public enmity”.

He said smoking rates were rising globally while they were falling in Pakistan. Farmers in Swabi, Mardan, Charsadda, Boner and Mansehra grow tobacco and they have urged the government to facilitate them by removing the advance tax on it.

Other speakers on the occasion said that the government collected billions of rupees annually in taxes from this cultivation, but was not ready to relieve the public.

They said the government should help the farmers to sow and reap the crop as this contributes billions of rupees in taxes every year.

Naimat Shah Roghani, chairman of the farmers’ rights organization, said the imposition of the advance tax on the tobacco crop was the result of a link between government officials and multinational tobacco companies.

He said the tax was aimed at eliminating the local tobacco industry and buying the crop from farmers at cheaper rates.

All tobacco growers in KP province have warned the government to protest outside the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) in Islamabad and block highways if it does not withdraw the advance tax of Rs 390 per kilogram.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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