Minister of State for Petroleum Dr Musaddiq Malik has said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has refused to increase prices of petroleum products until the presentation of a relief plan for the poor and deserving people earning between Rs18,000 and Rs20,000 per month.

The Ministry of Petroleum has prepared three alternative plans for the provision of targeted subsidy to the poor, which would be sent to the prime minister for approval soon, he said.

He expressed those views after the 75th anniversary celebrations of Pakistan Tobacco Company on Tuesday. On the occasion, a research report was released covering 75 years of business journey of the company in Pakistan.

Speaking at the event, the minister of state for petroleum said that a documented economy was critically important for Pakistan as it would increase state revenue and improve the utilisation of resources.

“When revenues increase, spending on welfare schemes will go up,” the state minister remarked.

He emphasised that the success of track and trace system in the tobacco industry depended on its effective implementation. “Every effort will be made to curb the illicit trade in cigarettes,” he declared, adding that the government acknowledged the efforts made by the tobacco company in the economic and social sectors over the last 75 years.

In the past five years, Pakistan Tobacco Company has contributed more than Rs450 billion to the country’s revenue through the payment of federal excise duty and general sales tax (GST).

The state minister added that the illicit trade in cigarettes posed a serious risk to the legal industry and the government would use all possible resources at its disposal to curb the illegal trade.

Speaking on the occasion, British American Tobacco Global Head of International Trade and Fiscal Affairs Donato Del Vecchio spoke about the recent investment made by Pakistan Tobacco in Pakistan.

He said that British American Tobacco recently invested $45 million in the country for the development of its first tobacco-free nicotine manufacturing plant in Pakistan and the creation of a new global business service bub.

Pakistan Tobacco Company Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Ali Akbar said that a total of Rs133 billion in taxes were paid by the company in 2021. “Pakistan Tobacco is currently one of the highest tax-paying companies in Pakistan,” he boasted.

He pointed out that the company launched the “Made in Pakistan” project in 2018 while in 2021 the company’s exports reached $37.2 million.

In addition to the tax revenue, Pakistan Tobacco’s traditional business and its value chain added Rs122 billion to Pakistan’s gross domestic product (GDP) and created 76,000 jobs directly and indirectly, he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 18th, 2022.

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