By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
ISLAMABAD: Cigarette manufacturers have approached the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), requesting it to hold an open dialogue with all stakeholders of the tobacco sector before the upcoming budget.
They urged the government to bring all stakeholders on board while finalising budget proposals for fiscal year 2020-21, according to a letter written by All Pakistan Cigarette Manufacturing Association Secretary Ashfaqur Rehman on May 21 and addressed to FBR Chairperson Nausheen Javed Amjad. “The FBR has once again succumbed to the pressure from multinational companies and has avoided holding a meeting for open discussion with the stakeholders,” an industry player said.
The purpose of the meeting and discussion was to explore options for enhancing tax collection and safeguarding the domestic industry by addressing its concerns. In the letter, the association proposed that the revenue board should invite all stakeholders of the tobacco sector to the open discussion, including multinational companies, national tobacco companies, Ministry of National Health Services, Finance Division and others.
“The purpose is to reach a consensus on a proposal that will be viable for all the stakeholders in the country,” the letter said. It would help stave off controversies raised every year by different quarters after the presentation of Finance Bill in the National Assembly for approval.
Furthermore, the degree of accuracy of information used by various agencies and other parameters like enforcement, compliance, etc should also be discussed by the FBR, the letter added. The association secretary voiced hope that the FBR would look into the proposal and consider it favourably for addressing legitimate concerns of the tobacco sector. The proposal would also help collect targeted revenue from the sector in the upcoming financial year, especially when the economy had been badly hit by coronavirus.