The tax on tobacco sales, an established cause for cancer, cardiac-related ailments and health-related issues, should have been raised prohibitively higher to such a level to make it unaffordable and prevent addiction by our younger generation. Taxes which come within the domain of sin tax are levied not just to raise revenues but to divert these funds to run hospitals which cater to patients affected by tobacco consumption and not dilute allocated health budget which is already insufficient to provide basic health facilities. Unfortunately, super-bureaucrats employed by the Tobacco industry on their Board of Directors serve as lobbyists to protect them from taxation rise. This proposed Rs10 tax on every packet of cigarette sold is insufficient to achieve the basic objective, which is to prevent addiction by making it unaffordable. It should be Rs100 on cheapest brand.

Similarly, tax on the smallest bottle of fizzy drinks should be raised by a minimum of Rs 10 not just Rs1 only. Succumbing to pressure from politically powerful sugar and bottled carbonated drink industry will harm our future generations and result in obesity etc. Sugar serves as a catalyst for cancer.

Countries where the state and its institutions provide welfare to citizens, direct taxation is levied on all sources of income. It is only when all existing sources of income have been exhausted, indirect taxes are levied because they adversely impact the poor and those who evade or pay taxes evenly. In Pakistan, the irony is that indirect taxes are levied to give subsidies to affluent elite and tax evaders and beneficiaries of subsidized real estate allotment, the Land Mafia Dons and feudal lobby. Since 2017 Benami assets have been declared illegal and punishments legislated, yet repeated amnesty schemes. This is not Jinnah’s Pakistan.

MALIK TARIQ,

Lahore, June 10.