The All Pakistan Cigarette Manufacturing Association (APCMA) has sought an open and comprehensive discussion of stakeholders of tobacco sector ahead of the budget of next fiscal year. In a letter written to FBR Chairperson Nausheen Javed Amjad last month, APCMA Secretary Ashfaqur Rehman said the purpose of the proposed meeting and the discussion is to explore options to enhance tax collection and safeguard the local industry by addressing their concerns. “FBR may convene an open discussion in which all the stakeholders of tobacco sector may be invited which includes but not limited to civil society, multinational tobacco companies, national tobacco companies, ministry of health, ministry of finance and others,” the letter read. “The purpose of the open discussion is to reach a consensus on a proposal which will be viable for all the stakeholders of the tobacco sector in the country,” it further said. “The approach of reaching a conclusive proposal the upcoming budget prevent controversies that raises every year by different quarters after the Finance Bill has, been laid before the National Assembly for approval. Further, the degree of accuracy in collection of information used by various agencies and other parameter, like enforcement, compliance, etc, should also be discussed by FBR and agreed upon beforehand with the stakeholders In order to avoid any difficulty that might be faced by all/any of the stakeholders of tobacco sector/ or by FBR,” the letter said. “We hope that your good self would look into this proposal of APCMA and will consider it favorably for not only protecting the legitimate concerns of the tobacco sector but for also securing targeted revenue to be collected from the tobacco sector in the upcoming financial year in the best public interest, especially when the economy of the country is badly hit by the pandemic caused by Corona Virus (Covid-19) and FBR is lagging way behind the envisaged target of tax collection for current fiscal year,” it added.The association said no response has so far been received from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). It maintained that the multinational companies are opposed to holding such an open discussion of the stakeholders, and that they have a very strong lobby among the power corridors to look after their interests. The APCMA represents local manufacturers of cigarettes based in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which is also recognized as one of the finest tobacco producing areas of Pakistan.