ISLAMABAD           -        Senate Chairman has asked Standing Committee on Finance to discuss as to why Federal Excise Duty (FED) on cigarettes was not increased by the authorities against the recommendation of the Federal Cabinet and Ministry of Health. 

Barrister Mohammad Ali Saif had raised the issue in the Senate and said the federal cabinet had proposed the FBR last year and Ministry of Health on several counts but no action was taken in this regard.

He said that the FED on cigarettes in Pakistan is very low and powerful multinational tobacco companies were the stumbling block in this regard. 

He said the matter “almost amounts to criminal negligence” and be referred to a standing committee where FBR and Health Ministry officials should be questioned about actions taken by them,” the senator said.

Multinational companies have very strong “tentacles” and those who raise their voice against them face the music.

He said that the government collected revenue of Rs90 billion from the industry with FED rate of 17.5 per cent during 2012-13. The government collected Rs 110 billion when the rate was increased to 33 per cent in 2018-19.

The senator referred to a report of Pakistan National Heart Association (PNHA) and said more than 153,000 people die every year in Pakistan because of tobacco consumption.

At least 10.7 per cent young adults are smokers despite the fact cigarettes are the cause behind 11 per cent deaths.

“Use of cigarette is much bigger an issue than what we are facing in these days in the form of coronavirus,” he said.

He said Pakistan is also signatory to Framework Convention on Tobacco Control under which the government is supposed to discourage tobacco consumption in the country by increasing taxes and prices.