4th May, 2021, Dhaka: The Members of Parliament demanded to Finance Minister Mr. AHM Mustafa Kamal FCA to abolish stratified tax structure and increase price of cigarettes at all tires in 2021-22 national budget to control tobacco and earn more revenue to deal with post COVID-19 financial situation.
Tuesday, these discussions came up in a webinar titled, ‘Tobacco Taxation in 2021-22 National Budget: Things to do’ arranged by ‘Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum for Health & Wellbeing’ and supported by Shastho Shurokkha Foundation.
The virtual seminar was presided over by BPFHW forum chairman Prof. Dr. Md. Habibe Millat, MP; where the Deputy Speaker of Jatiya Sangsad; Mr. Fazle Rabbi Miah, MP present as a chief guest and Prof. Dr. AFM Ruhal Haque present as special guest. Keynote presentation given by chairman of Development Initiative and former governor of Bangladesh Bank, Dr. Atirur Rahman.
Through the keynote presentation, two proposals were put forward for the implementation of a specific tax on tobacco in the upcoming budget. Those are, increasing the price of cigarettes at all tires, especially low-tire cigarettes, increasing retail price. Another one is, reduce tobacco use and increase revenue by formulating and implementing effective tobacco tax policy for a period of 5 years.
Dr. Atiur Rahman said through the presentation, ‘If we implement these proposals, the government will earn more 3 thousands and 400 crore taka as revenue. A total of .8 million young people will be stopped from tobacco use.
Another Presentation was given by SSF CEO Dr. Mr. Nizam Uddin Ahmed about public health aspect on tobacco control and initiatives of MPs thorugh BFPHW forum. The presentation focued on ban of E-Cigarette, tobacco law amenedment and tobacco taxation.
Chief Guest, the deputy speaker Mr. Fazle Rabbi Miah, MP said, ‘You have given a DO letter to the Finance Minister regarding tobacco taxation. But it will not work. It will be good if the standing committee of the finance ministry and members of the forum jointly explain everything to the finance minister. You have to ask him, whether he supports prime minister commitment or not. You need to talk to the finance minister, you will succeed. I hope your initiative on tobacco taxation will be successful.’
Special guest Prof. Dr. Ruhal Haque, MP said, ‘We have been working against tobacco for a long time. Many organizations in Bangladesh are working against tobacco. Those involved in tobacco production and trade are very powerful. We have to take different approaches to work against them. Increasing the tax on tobacco in the budget will reduce its use.’
The NBR Chariman Mr. Abu Hena Md. Rahmatul Munim said, ‘we are trying to control tobacco by imposing tax in every year. But, there is no survey about its result. Organization who works against tobacco, they can research on it. It will help us to work on increasing the tax on tobacco.’
President of this seminar; Prof. Dr. Md. Habibe Millat, MP said, ‘Bangladesh Parliamentary Forum for Health and Wellbeing has taken a number of initiatives to control tobacco. According to this, we have shared a letter signed by 52 MPs to the finance minister with demand of tobacco taxation.’
Other speakers, including members of parliament, agreed to work together against tobacco. They also expressed their solidarity on proposing a tax hike on tobacco in the Parliament session, taking effective measures against tax evasion, simplifying the existing tobacco tax system and increasing the NBR's capacity.
ASM Feroz MP, Adiba Anjum Mita MP, Aroma Dutta MP, Kazi Nabil Ahmed MP, M. A. Shahid MP, Md. Shahiduzzaman Sarker MP, Meher Afroz Chumki MP, Rana Sohail MP; Rubina Akhter Mira MP, Shabnam Jahan MP , Shirin Akhter MP, Barrister Shamim Hayder Patwary and Nahid Izahar Khan MP also took part in the seminar. Representatives from Shastho Shurokkha Foundation, WHO; tobacco control organization including CTFK, Progga, Voice also present in the seminar