ISLAMABAD - Leadership of tobacco growers of Khy­ber Pakhtunkhaw and officer bearers of different organizations of KP Agri­cultural and Rural Development have demanded of the government to pro­vide relief to tobacco growers in the wake of coronavirus pandemic and fix advanced tax on cigarette products in­stead of imposing tax on growers in the KP province.

Addressing a press conference at the National Press Club here yesterday, the leadership of different organizations of tobacco growers and unions of in­dustrial labour workers from KP in­cluding Kisan Board Pakistan, Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organization, Pakistan Tobacco Work­ers Association, Anjuman-e-Tahafuz-e-Haqooq-e-Kashtkaran, Labours Fed­eration stated that tobacco is the only cash-crop of KP, which has been con­tributing billions of rupees revenues to the national exchequer and also pro­viding sustenance to millions of people in the province.

The advanced tax on tobacco will ruin the growers and farmers and es­tablish monopoly of multi-national to­bacco companies in Pakistan resulting massive unemployment, they said.

According to them, multinational to­bacco companies use to exploit local tobacco industry and exploit local to­bacco growers as they purchase tobac­co from them on the cut rates.

They said that the government in­stead of imposing advanced tax on to­bacco growers should impose taxes on cigarettes products. The leadership of growers said that proposed advanced tax on tobacco growers Rs.500/kg will ruin tobacco sector and millions of people associated with this cash-crop.

They also urged the government to retain the prevailing tax ratio with­out imposing advanced tax for tobac­co crop.

On the occasion, President of Mehnatkash Labour Federation, Ibra­rullah, said that the KP tobacco sector has been providing jobs to thousands of workers and the government should patronize this sector.

President Anjuman Tahfuz-e-Haqooq-e-Kashtkaran Haji Naimat­ullah said that in 2019 with efforts of Speaker National Assembly Asad Qa­iser, the government had ceased ad­vanced tax on tobacco growers, but in the budget of 2020-21, there are also suggestions to impose Rs500/kg ad­vanced tax on tobacco which will be equivalent to economic murder of to­bacco growers and farmers in KP.

President Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Haji Abdul Nabi said that advanced tax on tobacco will be tantamount to added burden on poor growers and farmers. He said KPK farmers own tobacco as sole cash-crop in the province, as they grows neither rice nor cotton owing to weather is­sues. He said tobacco sector in KPK has been providing billions of rupees tax to the government and advanced tax on tobacco farmers will ruin this sector at local level.

President Pakistan Tobacco Workers Association, Liaqat Yousafzai said that the government should impose all add­ed and advanced tax on tobacco prod­ucts (cigarettes) instead of imposing these taxes on poor tobacco growers.

He also demanded that local tobacco growers should also be include in the Pakistan Tobacco Board.

The leadership said that with imple­mentation of added advanced tax on tobacco crop, buyers from local market will not purchase tobacco at exorbitant price and ultimately ruined local tobac­co sector.