Speakers at a workshop urged the government to relax tax policy and its structure in a short time to build tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040.
They also said the ‘specific tax’ management is very necessary to collect more revenue easily and called on the government to include it in the upcoming budget.
Dr Mohammad Mahfuz Kabir, research director at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) said the prices of tobacco goods especially cigarette should be increased so that these are out of purchasing power of young generation.
“Specific tax management is necessary for collecting more revenue. So it should be included in the upcoming budget. Besides, easy tax policy will help build tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040,” he also said.
Dr Mahfuz said a vested group wants the existing complex tax policy to evade taxes. So tobacco control policy is not implemented here.
Dr Syed Mahfuzul Huq, National Professional Officer (NCD) of World Health Organization (WHO), said if tax on tobacco goods is increased then the cost of health sector will come down.
“Bangladesh collects revenue around Tk 22,810 crore a year from tobacco sector while the country spends Tk 30,560 crore in health sector, that is 1.4 percent of GDP of 2017-18 fiscal year. So tax policy should be relaxed to collect more revenue,” he also said.
Mahfuzul said some 35.3 percent people (15 to up years) use tobacco goods, 0.2 percent people use e-cigarette and 2.2 crore people use smokeless tobacco in the country. “We should reduce tobacco consumers increasing its prices to build tobacco-free Bangladesh,” he said.
Md Hasan Shahriar, project coordinator of Progga, an anti-tobacco organisation, said an active tax management is needed to build tobacco free country.
“The price of cigarette is very low in Bangladesh compared to neighbouring countries. The price level for cigarettes should be set at number two instead of four. Increasing price of cigarette will reduce the number of consumers. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) won’t be achieved if we can’t reduce the number of tobacco consumers,” he added.
Md Monir Hosain liton, Joint CNE of 71 TV, moderated the function while Saif Islam Dilal, planning editor of Ekushey TV, president of Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF) and a number of journalists were present in the workshop.