Pakistanis chew up $64.7 mn worth of betel nuts a year

Islamabad, Nov 11 (IANS) Pakistan spent a whopping $64.7 million on import of betel nuts and betel leaves during 2009-10, a minister told the National Assembly.

Betel nuts worth $59 million and betel leaves worth $5.7 million were imported from various countries, Minister for Commerce Makhdoom Amin Fahim told the National Assembly Wednesday.

Betel nuts were bought from India, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand while betel leaves were imported from Australia, Bangladesh, Central African States, China, Hong Kong, Mayotta, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates, the daily Dawn reported Thursday.

Speaker Fahmida Mirza asked why so much was being wasted on imports of betel nuts and betel leaves, especially since its consumption was harmful for humans.

‘These items must be heavily taxed to discourage their imports and usage,’ Mirza told the minister.

Fahim said these were some of the highly demanded items of everyday consumption in the country.

‘We have no issues on raising taxes on their imports. But the move will only trigger massive public outrage. These items are used in making Paan one of the highly demanded addictions in the country,’ the commerce minister was quoted as saying.

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