Misrepresentation of Tobacco Industry figures may harm economy

Islamabad :- Only reliable research data can help better policy making especially when it comes to revenue generation and any misleading facts can hamper government efforts to bring better tax policies, leading global research organization Nielsen told media during a briefing held in Islamabad.

Director, Retail Audit Services of Neilsen, Mr. Asad explained that the Company is present in more than 100 countries employing more than 35,000 people globally. Nielsen has been present in Pakistan for more than 25 years and it proudly provides research data to local, multinational, public sector and social sector organizations. He provided a detailed review to the audience regarding Nielsen’s Retail Audit services methodology.

While giving a detailed presentation about tobacco survey, Mr Asad explained that the tobacco sector is also amongst the 80 product categories for which they conduct audits on daily basis and their research findings have highlighted that the 02 multinationals cigarette manufacturers have 67% market share whereas the local cigarette manufacturers have 33% market share. He further told that the local cigarette manufacturers have a strong hold in the rural parts of the country with their highest share of more than 50% in South Punjab. Asad, added that the 86% of the brands produced by the local cigarette manufacturers are sold below the minimum selling price mandated by the Government of Pakistan i.e. Rs. 47.39 per pack and 77% of their brands are sold below the minimum applicable tax of Rs. 33 per pack of 20 cigarettes.

Chief Executive Officer Neilsen, Ms. Qurat ul Ain also briefed media about the creditability of their research data saying that the Nielsen ensures high quality output through multiple quality checks at each point of research and digitization has ensured minimal human interference due to which the research results are untampered and pure. She mentioned that they conduct audit surveys in the market on daily basis for more than 80 product categories.

CEO Neilsen added that when research and figures released by reputed multinational research companies like Neilsen, there is little to doubt as these companies do not disappear after doing a single project instead they are concerned about their reputation and long term sustainability, hence they will always conduct researches in a transparent manner and give pure and unadulterated results.
Recently, there have been multiple researches conducted by NGO’s and other organizations that misquote the statistics and figures about tobacco but such data releases are usually circulated in media in order to pressurize the Government into taking steps that may harm the economy of a country. In many cases research companies neither have established offices in the country nor do they have adequate research methodology to support their claims.

During two tier tax system, the Government suffered a loss of more than 30 billion in one year i.e. from 2014-15 to 2016-17 and with the introduction of third-tier, the revenue has bounced back to Rs. 89 billion in 2017-18 from Rs. 74 billion in 2016 – 17, he added. According to FBR sources, Government is expected to generate taxes of PKR 116.5 Billion from the tobacco industry in the ongoing fiscal year out of which two multinational tobacco companies will pay PKR 115 Billion while tax collected from the local tobacco companies is going to be mere PKR 1.5 Billion.

Reported by: Ch. Mudasar Iqbal