ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of National Health Services (NHS) has urged the Ministry of Finance to lay Federal Health Levy Bill in parliament to impose a tax on tobacco and sugary drinks to boost revenues and prevent non-communicable diseases.
In a letter to the Ministry of Finance, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Special Assistant on Health Dr Faisal Sultan stressed the need to impose a health tax of Rs10 per pack of 20 cigarettes and Rs 1 per 250 millilitres on carbonated drinks as approved by the federal cabinet on June 18, 2019.
Mr Sultan said non-communicable diseases like heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung ailment were collectively responsible for almost 68 per cent of all deaths in Pakistan.
“Pakistan is obligated to reduce one-third premature mortality from these diseases mainly caused by the tobacco by 2030 as a part of its targets set in Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said.
He said the government could achieve the goal by decreasing the tobacco consumption among the youth through the imposition of the health tax. The imposition of health tax on tobacco and sugary drinks as per the decision of the cabinet will prove as a catalyst to reduce the non-communicable diseases in the country, he said in the letter, adding this would also help boost tobacco revenues.
The federal cabinet had decided to include provisions of the Federal Health Levy Bill in the Finance Bill 2019 but this couldn’t become part of it due to unknown reasons.
The measures to check illegal manufacturing and illicit trade of cigarettes and tobacco were also to be incorporated in the Finance Bill.
Dr Sultan has now recommended to the Ministry of Finance again to take immediate measures to lay the Federal Health Levy Bill before the parliament at an early date to get it passed.