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Call for simplifying tax structure on tobacco

FE REPORT | May 04, 2021 00:00:00

Speakers during a webinar on Monday suggested that the authorities simplify tax structure on tobacco to discourage the use of relevant products in Bangladesh.

They said this would be effective in reducing tobacco use if the related tax is increased proportionately.

The observations came during the virtual view-exchange meeting styled 'Way Forward to Tobacco free Bangladesh by 2040: Tobacco Tax' with executive committee members of the Economic Reports' Forum (ERF).

The Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) hosted the event.

The existing tobacco tax structure is very complex which acts as a deterrent to discouraging tobacco use. So, it needs to be simplified, the speakers said.

Bangladesh is one of the most tobacco-consuming countries in the world. The price of cigarettes is very low and that of bidi is cheaper here.

According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, the per-capita national income (nominal) increased by 25.4 per cent in fiscal year (FY) 2017-18.

However, the price of most cigarettes has remained almost unchanged or has increased slightly. As a result, cigarettes are fast becoming readily available.

That is why, it is imperative to increase the price of cigarettes through a specific tax rise, they added.

Iqbal Masud, director at Health and Wash Sector of DAM, delivered his welcome speech during the online meeting.

World Health Organisation's national professional officer Dr Syed Mahfuzul Haque, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids Bangladesh grants manager Abdus Salam Mia and lead policy adviser Md Mostafizur Rahman, ERF president Sharmeen Rinvy and general secretary SM Rashedul Islam spoke there.

Md Shariful Islam, project coordinator at Tobacco Control Project of DAM, presented a keynote paper during the seminar moderated by Rezaur Rahman Rizvi, media manager at the project.

The keynoter proposed to introduce a specific excise (supplementary) duty based on the price level of all cigarette brands with uniform coverage (supplementary duty 65 per cent of final retail price) in FY 2021-22.

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