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No compromise over tobacco, says taxation chief

No compromise over tobacco, says taxation chief

Dhaka, Apr 7 (UNB) – Chairman of the National Board of Revenue (NBR) Md Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan on Sunday said they will make no compromise over the issue of tobacco as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her commitment to make Bangladesh a tobacco-free country.

He came up with the remarks at a pre-budget discussion with the representatives of Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) at the NBR auditorium in the capital. 

At the programme, ATMA put forward a set of proposals to be considered in the upcoming budget for 2019-20 fiscal year.

The proposals included bringing the number of price slabs of cigarettes down to two (low and high) from four, setting the retail price for the low tier cigarettes at no less than Tk 50 per 10 sticks and raising the supplementary duty to 60 percent, setting those for the high tier at least at Tk 105 per 10 sticks and imposing 65 percent supplementary duty apart from introducing a specific tax by Tk 5 per 10 sticks for all cigarette tiers, eliminating price distinction between filter and non-filter bidis, removing Tariff Value System in Smokeless Tobacco (Jarda and Gul), imposing the supplementary duty to 45 percent of retail price and adding a specific tax by Tk 5 per 10 grams of jarda and Tk 3 per 10 grams of gul and a 15 percent VAT on all tobacco products (smoking and smokeless).

The ATMA representatives said tobacco products are becoming cheaper in Bangladesh over the time. The existing tobacco taxation structure is extremely complex. 

Due to multiple price slabs and opportunity to purchase tobacco products at different prices, tax and price measures are not working effectively in reducing the use of tobacco, they said.

They demanded effective tobacco taxation, saying if their proposals are accepted, it will encourage nearly 3.2 million current adult smokers to quit (1.3 million cigarette smokers and 1.9 million bidi smokers) smoking.

Besides, it will decrease premature deaths by 1 million among current smokers in the long term and will generate between Tk 66.80 billion and 119.80 billion (or 0.4 percent of GDP) in additional tax revenue, the representatives said.

Meanwhile, representatives of Bangladesh Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Women Entrepreneurs Network for Development Association and India-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry also discussed various issues with the NBR chairman at the meeting.