I was amazed to know that the adviser to the prime minister on finance and revenue had turned down the proposal to impose a health hazard tax on tobacco and sugar-sweetened drinks, though these have harmful effects. In contrast, New Zealand, according to a report, is planning to ban cigarette sales to protect its future generations.
The imposition of heavy taxes by the government on these products would protect the health of the citizens, particularly the younger generation, while it will translate into better revenue-collection which is what the government is trying to do and which is what the country needs badly. It would also reduce dollars being wasted as the products, especially sugar-based drinks, have high import content.
The perception is that a certain lobby within the government does not want to disturb the influential groups involved in the business and are making fabulous profits. Any decision that protects the mafia is beyond comprehension. Economic stability complemented by rupee stability should be the cornerstone of the government policy. Anything which is against that target can never be good for the country.
Umair Saeed Kirmani