He urges FM to protect interests of growers in the country

Ahead of WHO-FCTC Seoul meet in November, Congress MP from Ongole Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy has urged Union Finance Minister P.Chidambaram to protect the interests of tobacco growers in the country, one of the largest producers in the world.

In a letter to Mr Chidambaram, a copy of which was released to the press here on Saturday, Mr Reddy said other major tobacco growing countries, including Brazil, China, Turkey, and Zimbabwe, had taken into account the farmers’ interests by ensuring that their delegations to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO-FCTC), included representatives from finance and agriculture ministries and tobacco boards.

Conference of Parties

Indian Tobacco farmers and their interests should also be allowed representation at the Conference of Parties (COP 5) from November 12 to 17, he said.

In India, tobacco provided livelihood security to nearly six million farmers and 26 million farm labourers, he said. While price and tax measures were aimed at reducing the demand for tobacco products, it would result in increase in proliferation of smuggled tobacco and border trade which would significantly reduce the demand for Indian tobacco products and livelihood of tobacco farmers would be affected, the MP added.

Impact of taxes

He said the governments should be encouraged to determine their own tobacco and taxation policies, taking into consideration the full impact of any tax measure on national fiscal revenue objectives, national public health priorities, the local social and economic environment, including employment concerns and illicit trade in all its facets at the national level.

The Ministry of Finance should also be part of the delegation to raise these issues, he said. Previous Indian delegations to FCTC had been represented only by the Health Ministry.

Copies of the letter were also sent to the Union Agriculture and Health Ministers for consideration.

  • Magunta Srinivasulu Reddy writes letter to Union Finance Minister P. Chidambaram

  • Tobacco provides livelihood to six million farmers and 26 million farm labourers, he says