PESHAWAR – After hectic efforts, the issue of tobacco crop prices was resolved by the members of the National Assembly Standing Committee for Ministry of Commerce.

After a thorough discussion on the issue by the Standing Committee for Ministry of Commerce in both the National Assembly and the Senate, the tobacco crop price was re-affirmed to Rs 121 per kilogram. The key issue created by these miscreants was around the fact that whether relevant rules and procedures were followed by the Pakistan Tobacco Board while determining the minimum crop price. The matter was resolved by the members of the National Assembly after a long discussion over the last few days with all the relevant parties.

According to few experts, the dispute was a result of inclusion of ‘new farmers’ who had no ties with the sector. Since the main purpose of Pakistan Tobacco Board, which is a constitutionally a regulated body, is to facilitate and maximise exports of tobacco products therefore all decisions are taken in the best possible interest of the farmers by the Board.

It was also brought to light that the Tobacco Board should be reconstituted to have true representation of all relevant stakeholders from the sector. The involvement of certain miscreants in the tobacco crop price mislead the concerned authorities and also caused a lot of confusion among the farming communities.

While restating the crop price, the members of the National Assembly expressed the need to combat mismanagement to safeguard the billions of rupees of revenue generated in the form of taxes by the tobacco sector, the absence of which is leading to unemployment and shifting of investment abroad. The members highlighted that the tobacco crop exports alone over the last two years have risen to 300 per cent, which shows its competitive standing and requirement in the international markets. The crop generates livelihoods for the farmers and an increase in its price would lead to lesser exports and hurt farmers interest also.

Since tobacco crop contributes largely to the economy of Pakistan, giving livelihoods to thousands of farmers, therefore it is vital for the policy makers to arrive on a decision after due consultation with the relevant stakeholders for best possible solution.