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Economy

Tax reform to reduce cigarette consumption

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ISLAMABAD: New tobacco reforms would reduce cigarette consumption ratio in the country by 42 percent, a  representative of Pakistan National Heart Association (PANAH) said today. 

Speaking at a media conference titled ‘Tobacco-free kids’, Legal Advisor PANAH Malik Imran said the tobacco tax reforms model would also cut down smoking prevalence in adult from the current 10.4 percent to about 8.3 percent in three years.  Malik Imran said the measure would also help reduce the number of smoking-related deaths among current and future smokers by about 11 percent, making up to about 1.1 million persons. 

The conference, organized by Society for the Protection of the Child (SPARC) in collaboration  with the Human Development Foundation and PANAH model of tobacco tax reforms, discussed tobacco  taxation with a concrete proposal for tobacco tax reforms and recommend solutions to the federal  government on short term (Fiscal Years 2019/20), medium term (FY 2020/21) and long term basis  (FY 2021/22).

The participants urged the government to implement measures to further strengthen the tax system by increasing the excise tax to reduce cigarette affordability.  They also called for harmonizing all taxes across tobacco products and full implementation of the Protocol to Eliminate Illicit Tobacco Trade, particularly the measures for supply and chain control,  such as license, tracking and tracing, and record keeping, besides aligning the protocol with the legislation on prosecutions and sanctions for tax evasion.

According to estimates by SPARC, it is predicted that the tax reform will generate significant additional total tax revenue of about Rs 205.9 billion over three years, equivalent to an average annual increase in total tax revenue of about 51 percent (or about Rs 32.3 billion per year).  The experts anticipated an increase in the excise tax share in the price from about 45.9  percent currently to 57.6 percent, somewhat closer to the 70 percent level recommended by the World Health Organization.

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Business

Is Uber buying Careem for $3.1b?

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DUBAI: According to the rumors making rounds here today it seems that Uber is about to acquire Careem for $3.1b!

Sources privy to NPTV have insinuated that the deal will be announced tomorrow (Tuesday 26th March). Initially Uber will pay $1.4 billion in cash and the rest in notes convertible to Uber shares.

It comes as Uber prepares for its initial public offering — expected next month — which could see the rideshare giant’s value increase to $100 billion.

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Crime

Confiscated goods’ auction fetches over Rs. 16 b in 5 years

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ISLAMABAD: The authorities concerned have amassed Rs. 16.124 billion through auction and disposal of different confiscated/smuggled goods during the last five years.
The confiscated goods are disposed of through open public auction as provided in auction/customs rules. A variety of smuggled goods have been confiscated in the country by Pakistan Customs during the period and these included tea, auto parts, cigarettes, medicines, antiques, crockery, vehicles, cloth, tires and tubes, diesel, electronic goods, and narcotics etc.
Elaborating procedure for the auction of confiscated goods, sources at Finance and Revenue Division on Sunday said as per auction rules, the Collector or an authorized officer shall nominate an auctioneer from amongst registered auctioneers to conduct an auction of confiscated goods.  The amounts and names of the highest and second highest bidders are recorded in the file by customs staff supervising the process along with copies of National  Identity Card as well as NTN of the successful bidder.
The auctioneer on receipt of a certificate issued by Collector or an authorized officer to the effect that the whole amount of bid has been realized, issues under his seal, a delivery order. The sources said there are certain items like arms and ammunition, liquor/narcotics and like goods which cannot be put to auction.
It is pertinent to mention here that goods like confiscated narcotics and expired/banned/hazardous items/goods, not fit for human consumption, are destroyed.  However, arms and ammunition of prohibited and non-prohibited bores are disposed of by allocating the same to an agency/department having anti-smuggling powers for their official use.

 

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Economy

Greek homes in Airbnb fever

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ATHENS: For Dimitra Dionysopoulou, who lives in the shadow of the Acropolis, there is no mistaking the signs of the Airbnb takeover in her neighborhood.
“Renovation noise, debris disposal bins on every street, and rolling luggage,” said the 50-year-old Athenian mother.
Dionysopoulou has lived her entire life in the middle-class district of Koukaki, now in the midst of a home-sharing frenzy. In 2016, it was named Airbnb’s fifth fastest growing neighborhood globally with an 800-percent jump in activity.
Its selling point? Walking distance from one of the world’s most visited archaeological sites, as well as the state-of-the-art Acropolis museum.
Hundreds of apartments in Koukaki’s aging concrete buildings are now on offer. Rents have doubled and entire families of tenants have been pushed out by cash-hungry owners, said Dionysopoulou.
“Three families I know have already left, and we are currently trying to find a home for a fourth,” she told AFP.
Greece is the eurozone country hardest hit by the 2008 economic crisis, losing around a quarter of its gross domestic product, suffering a surge in unemployment and a severe debt crisis that prompted bailouts from the EU and the IMF as wages stagnated and housing prices fell.
Dionysopoulou is not alone in feeling that the Airbnb phenomenon, as in other major cities, has run amok.
Greek authorities this year belatedly introduced registration and tax rules for Airbnb homeowners.
According to Angelos Skiadas, head of Greece’s tenant association, the home-sharing craze has even spread to far-off Athens suburbs with no tourist interest.
“Homeowners think this is a cure-all that will solve their problems for life. Many use Airbnb as a threat (to raise the rent),” he said.
The shortage is particularly acute on popular islands where visiting civil servants, teachers, and university students are unable to find affordable housing beyond May when the tourist season begins to pick up, Skiadas noted.
“It’s a bubble,” he said, before adding: “Things will balance out.”
Hoteliers also say the situation is out of control. Their trade association commissioned a study from Grant Thornton that found that more than 76,000 properties in Greece were available on home-sharing platforms.
The study argued that declining availability had pushed up rents in central Athens by 9.3 percent in a year, disproportionately affecting poorer segments of the population such as pensioners and single-parent families.
In a sign that Koukaki has reached the saturation point, the government this month moved to halt the construction of a nearly completed nine-floor hotel with a stellar view of the Parthenon.

 

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