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Tobacco Industry interference has to be strictly controlled in tobacco taxation process

In Bangladesh, 43.3% (41.3 million) adult people use tobacco. In order to control the use of tobacco products, high taxes have to be imposed on all types of tobacco products. As well as, it is necessary to brought all types of tobacco products under single tax structure for effective tobacco control. Experts and anti-tobacco activists opined this in the “Consultation meeting on tobacco taxation in Bangladesh” jointly organized by Bureau of Economic Research, University of Dhaka and Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust with the support of The Union on 05 February 2018 at CARS conference hall of University of Dhaka.

Professor Dr. Shafique uz Zaman, Director of Bureau of Economic Research presided over the meeting while Dr. AM Parvez Rahim, Coordinator of National tobacco Control Cell (NTCC); Shafiqul Islam, Country Advisor of Vital Strategies-Bangladesh; Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Huq, National Professional Officer of WHO; Farida Akhter, Convener of Anti-Tobacco Women’s Alliance (TABINAJ); Saifuddin Ahmed, Executive Director of WBB Trust gave speech. Dr. Rumana Huque, Professor, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka and Syed Mahbubul Alam, Technical Advisor of The Union presented keynote presentation.

Speakers said, Bangladesh is one of the countries in the world where tobacco products are cheaper. Tobacco is not a basic necessary products and it is a legitimate product which brings death of its consumer. So, it is necessary to impose higher tax on such products and discourage the use of these products. High taxation is an effective method to reduce the use of tobacco. The current tax structure on tobacco in Bangladesh is complex and tier-based. The whole tax system needs to be updated. In addition to imposing taxes, it is necessary to increase the capacity of the National Board of Revenue in tax collection.” They also added, “Whenever issues rises regarding the increase in the value of tobacco products or the increase in taxes, tobacco companies adopt different techniques. Due to the tactics of companies, the process of tax increases on tobacco products is facing many obstacles. Tobacco companies all types of interference in tobacco taxation process of must be strictly controlled".

Among others, representatives of various organizations including National Board of Revenue, Dhaka Civil Surgeon Office, Prottasha Anti-Drug Organization, Aid Foundation, TCRC, Supro, YPSA, BCCP, IRD Bangladesh, Banchte Shikho Nari, Nabanita, Prodesh, Bangladesh Girls’ Guide Association took part in the meeting.