Tobacco farmers and industrial workers have urged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government not to impose heavy taxes, saying the move will create a monopoly of multinational companies and eliminate thousands of jobs from local industry. “Hundreds of thousands of farmers and at least 20,000 industrial workers will go jobless if government imposes new taxes on local industry at the behest of multinational companies,” said leaders of famers and industrial workers in a statement here after a meeting. The meeting was attended by Abrar Ullah, president of Mehnat Kash Labour Federation, Rizwanullah, president of Kisan Board Pakistan, Haji Abdul Nabi Mohmand, president of Sarhad Agricultural and Rural Development Organisation, Haji Niamat Shah, president of Anjuman Tahaffuz Kashtkaran and Liaqat Yousafzai, president of Tahaffuz Haqooq Kashtkaran. The meeting was held to discuss issues likely to be faced if government goes for imposing new taxes. “We will not accept any tax other than Rs 10 per kg on tobacco,” the statement said.Last year, the government had proposed imposition of Rs 300 advance tax per kilogram on tobacco which triggered protests and demonstrations by the farmers and industrial workers. Under the proposals, farmers had to sell the crop for Rs 130 per kilogram to the tobacco companies but they would have to pay Rs 300 tax per kilogram. After several rounds of meetings with government officials, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qasier played a role for withdrawal of the decision. “Multinational companies are making fresh efforts that the government imposes heavy taxes on farmers,” they said.According to farmers association, there are more than 22 small companies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province which used to pay better prices to farmers than other major companies and their purchasing centres are located in villages where they can easily sell their produce. The province was producing 98 per cent of the tobacco crop in areas including Buner and Mansehra, Shergarh in Mardan and Charsadda and Swabi districts. Swabi is considered to be major producer where tobacco is not only a cash crop but the lone source of livelihood for millions of households. “We fear that multinational companies want to establish their monopoly over the industry which is not in anyone’s interest,” they said, and demanded that the government impose taxes on cigarettes instead of denying farmers and industrial workers their livelihood opportunities.