MARDAN - Office bearers of Anjuman-e-Khastkaran (AK) Kyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Tobbacco Dealers Association (TDA) of Mardan, Charsadda and Swabi here on Wednesday rejected the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) composition saying that 29 members were appointed on political bases in the PTB and in spite of the directives of Peshawar High Court the board does not solve the price issue of tobacco.

“We have also rejected the current Rs 10 tax per kilo on tobacco”. These views were expressed by Provincial President of AK Abdul Haleem Khan Mayar, Vice President Haji Namat Shah Roghani, General Secretary Ismil Jan Khan, District Swabi President Alam Sher Khan and General Secretary Syed Abdal Bacha, Takhatbhai President Qamar Zaman Khan advocate, Mardan President Akhtar Ali Khan, Tobacco Dealers Association (TDA) Vice President Yaqoob Khan and others while addressing a crowded press conference here.

They said that legally and constitutionally PTB is bound to fix the price of tobacco with the consultation of tobacco growers, industrialist, multinational companies but the secretary of PTB who is not authorized had illegally fixed Rs 117 per kilogram price in consultation with the multinational companies last year. They recalled that the price fixed by the board last year was illegal as neither the PTB chairman was present nor its members had the authority to do so. They said that the cost of producing one kilogram of tobacco stood at Rs240.

They further said that in this connection we had knocked at the door of Peshawar High Court on April 4, 2012, which had directed the PTB to fix the price through a constitutional way within one month in the consultation with farmers and other stakeholders but the time lapsed without any progress in this regard. They further said that from the last several months the PTB is performing their duties without members and chairman but now on political basis 29 members were appointed in PTB majority of whom belong to Sindh province and they have no knowledge about tobacco.

They warned of staging protest at the offices of the Pakistan Tobacco Board (PTB) in Peshawar if the production cost of tobacco was not increased and changes were not made in the existing PTB. They further said that with protest they will also again knock at the door of High Court.

They further said that we rejected this board. They said that the entire family, including the women and kids, worked day and night for growing tobacco and million of people are involved with tobacco but the income gained from the crop couldn’t meet even their basic requirement. They said that government was already receiving 1.80 and 2.50 rupees tax per kilo on tobacco in the form of excise duty and provincial tax. They said that federal government received Rs 78 million tax on tobacco but in spit of this provincial government imposed 10 rupees on per kg more tax, which is against the constitution and law.

They said that the tobacco dealers and cultivators economically are depending on tobacco crops because it is the only cash crop of area. They demanded removal of the tax on tobacco. They further said they were fed up with the ongoing exploitation by the multinational companies and the policies of PTB, which did not have their true representation.