ISLAMABAD: Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) held a press conference to “Demand Imposition of Health Levy bill as passed by Cabinet in 2019” at National Press Club Islamabad on Tuesday.

Health advocates demanded an investigation to determine why the decision of the federal cabinet to impose a health levy on tobacco could not be implemented and also demanded Prime Minister Imran Khan to take notice.

As a result of the lack of implementation of the bill the country loss Rs. 55 billion last year. Health levy on cigarettes and sugary drinks would have generated Rs. 55 billion in revenue which could be used for healthcare infrastructure.

Mr. Sajjad Ahmed Cheema, Executive Director, SPARC informed media that in June 2019, the federal cabinet decided to implement a healthy levy on tobacco products. The said move would have increased the price of tobacco products and make them unaffordable for low-income groups and children. However, this bill has been going back and forth between FBR, Healthy Ministry and Finance Ministry.

The FBR has mentioned in written that it doesn’t have any issues with implementation of healthy levy. Hence the delay in this matter is a disappointing shock because it shows that public health is not a priority matter for our government.

Ch. Sana Ullah Ghuman, Secretary General, Pakistan National Heart Association reminded the government that Pakistan is a signatory of Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC)/ Prime Minister cannot meet representatives of Tobacco Industry as it is a violation of 5.3 of FCTC. Children are the most effected group from tobacco consumption. Therefore, we hope that he’ll take immediate notice of delay in implementation of healthy levy and take this necessary step to safeguard the health of millions of children in Pakistan.

Col (retired) Azhar Saleem, CEO, Human Development Foundation (HDF) said that due to the delay in implementation of health levy, the national exchequer suffered a loss of Rs. 55 billion. The COVI-19 pandemic made everyone realize once again that we our existing resources are inadequate to counter any healthy emergency. This amount could have been utilized for pandemic control and guarantee better health and living standard for our citizens.


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