Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to map out strategy for tobacco export
PESHAWAR: The provincial legislature of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Tuesday constituted a committee to prepare strategy for the export of tobacco and bring an end to the monopoly of cigarette manufacturing companies on the subject.
The committee would be comprising of members from both treasury and opposition benches and would be given time-frame to finalizing of the strategy in this regard.
The matter was raised by the senior parliamentarian, Abdul Akbar Khan of PPP through an adjournment motion. Speaking on his motion, the senior parliamentarian, Abdul Akbar Khan said that tobacco is a cash crop and due to favourable environment produced only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, he said that the province had never made any legislation for it.
He said that surplus cotton and rice produced in Punjab has been exported, while not a single leaf of the best quality Virginia tobacco is being exported to any country. He said that it is very unfortunate the growing community of the province has been left at the mercy of the multinational tobacco companies.
Abdul Akbar Khan said that growers, who produced the crop are living miserable lives while companies are earning millions of rupees and living lavish lives. He said that two provinces of India produced tobacco and
earns Rs.130 billion annually from the export.
He asked the government to tell why they are exporting tobacco,
saying that cigarette manufacturing units have been established in Karachi and only they are allowed for export. He said that the province could earn billions of rupees in case it prepares a formal mechanism for it.
The senior parliamentarian said that the tobacco produced in our province has big demand in the world market. In other countries, he said the board itself purchased the crop from the growers. He urged the government for bringing reforms in the tobacco boards in the interest of the growers and itself. Saqibullah Khan Chamkani said that tobacco is the national asset of the province, but, unfortunately multinationals had established their monopoly on it. He also accused Pakistan Tobacco Board for protecting the interest of the tobacco companies. He called for the abolition of the monopoly of the companies to enable growers to stand on their own feet.
Senior Minister Bashir Ahmad Bilour also agreed with the contentions of Abdul Akbar Khan that the provincial government is lacking mechanism. He said t hat though cigarettes are being manufactured of the tobacco, but t he units i n Karachi. Under 18th Constitutional Amendment, such matters would be handed over to the provinces.
Tobacco, he said is the cash crop of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but Rs.18 billion collected in head of Central Excise Duty (CED), goes to federal and Sindh governments. He supported call for the formation of mechanism to bring the benefit back to the province. The Provincial Minister for Information, Mian Iftikhar Hussein said that the matter is 30 years old and called for the constitution of committee immediately to prepare policy in this regard and settled the issue as soon as possible. -App
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