ISLAMABAD   -  Tobacco growers and industrial workers on Monday condemned Rs300 tax levy imposed on farmers by the government for the fiscal year 2019-20.

Tobacco growers from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and tobacco industrial workers in a press briefing held here urged government to fulfill its promise of eliminating Rs300 tax on tobacco growers and impose the levy on multinational tobacco companies.

Representatives of Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organization (SARDO), Kisan Board Pakistan (KBP) and Workers Federation said that government had committed to impose tax on cigarettes, but again it was imposed on tobacco growers.

Haji Abdul Ghani of SARDo said that government has imposed Rs300 per kg tax on tobacco growers which will bring severe financial burden on the growers and labourers.

“The decision will affect 1134000 tobacco growers and 15000 industrial workers only in KP,” he said.

He alleged that the multinational tobacco companies provide loan for the raw material to growers on 36 percent interest rate and compels the farmers to sell the tobacco on less rate to the companies.

He said that in current economic situation of the country the agricultural side needs to be strengthened, but government is imposing more tax on it.

President Workers Federation, Ibrarullah said that non elimination of Rs300 levy on tobacco growers will bring economic death to working class.

He alleged that the multinational tobacco companies gave Rs 294million damage to national exchequer in previous financial year and above 840 workers lost their jobs.

“The tobacco production decreased to 7 million kilogram from 140 Kg in last four years due to discriminatory policy,” he claimed.  He said that 50percent production of tobacco has been decreased in the country which is alarming.

Ibrarullah said that the tobacco growers are already paying billions of rupees in forms to taxes in the national exchequer, and additional Rs300 tax is extra financial burden on farmers.  “Government needs to shift its tax policy to multinational companies earning billions of revenue from tobacco manufacturing,” he said.

He said that thousands of workers will become unemployed and lands will be barren if the tax is not abolished by the government.  President KBP Rizwan ullah said that if the government didn’t abolish Rs300 tax from the growers, all bodies will initiate protest against it.

“We will come on roads,” he said.

He also said that no multinational company will be allowed purchasing the tobacco from the market when the protest will be launched.  He also said that the multinational companies’ offices and factories will be locked under the protest until the demands are met.