- Tobacco products will be readily available in the proposed budget, health risks will increase
If the proposed budget for the next 2022-23 fiscal year is passed, the use of all kinds of tobacco products including cigarettes will increase among the young and poor people. Health expenditure will increase and the government will be deprived of additional revenue. The opportunity to increase the profit of the tobacco company will continue as the rate of supplementary duty has remained unchanged and no specific tax system has been introduced.
Following the budget conference on ‘Tobacco Tax Conference’ organized by Dhaka Reporters’ Unity (DRU) at Nasrul Hamid Auditorium on Saturday (June 18) with the support of Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK), Gyan (Wisdom) for Progress and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (Atma). Anti-tobacco leaders, including economists.
At the press conference, Pragya and Atma said that the price of low quality cigarettes has been increased by only 2.56 percent in the proposed budget. At present, 65 per cent of the cigarette market is occupied by low-income groups whose main consumers are mainly young and poor. It has been proposed to increase the prices at medium, high and very high levels by 3.16 percent, 8.62 percent and 5.16 percent respectively.
According to the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS), the per capita income of the people has increased by about 10 percent this year as compared to last year. Cigarettes will be more readily available as the increase in cigarette prices is much less than the increase in per capita income and young people will be particularly encouraged to use cigarettes.
According to data released by the Department of Agriculture Marketing, comparative analysis of daily average retail prices of essential commodities in four metros (Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi and Khulna) was given at the press conference. The prices of flour increased by 18 per cent, flour by 44.83 per cent, eggs by 34.3 per cent, lentils by 25.43 per cent, powdered milk by 18.19 per cent, broiler chicken by 18.63 per cent and miniket rice by 12.5 per cent. However, in the proposed budget, the price of low-end cigarettes, which occupy 75% of the cigarette market, has been increased by only 2.56% and the prices of jorda, gul and bidi have been kept unchanged. As a result, tobacco products will be cheaper than daily commodities and young and low-income people will be encouraged to use these products, which pose a serious threat to public health.
It was further informed at the press conference that a part of the increased price would go into the pocket of the company due to increase in retail price by one taka leaving the supplementary duty on low quality cigarettes unchanged at 56 per cent. According to the World Health Organization, the amount of supplementary duty on tobacco products will be at least 60 percent of the retail price. In addition, the non-imposition of supplementary tariffs as specified by the anti-tobacco proponents would increase the complexity of tax collection and would allow the tobacco company to continue to benefit in various ways, including tax evasion.
Speaking as the chief guest at the press conference, the prominent economist and convener of the National Anti-Tobacco Forum. Kazi Khaliquzzaman Ahmed said the price of widely used cheap cigarettes has been increased by only 10 paisa per stick and the price of gul, jorda and bidi has not been increased by a single paisa. This will not reduce tobacco use. If our proposal is implemented, the revenue of the government will increase manifold and the way to achieve a tobacco free Bangladesh will be easy.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) Research Director. Mahfuz Kabir said, “The price of tobacco products should be increased by imposing specific supplementary duty. This will reduce the complexity of revenue collection, make accurate predictions about revenue collection and, above all, take the National Board of Revenue one step further in implementing the simple tobacco policy announced by the Prime Minister.
The proposals made at the press conference for inclusion in the final budget for 2022-23 are:
Cigarettes: At the lower level, the retail price of 10 sticks of cigarettes is fixed at Rs. 50, with a fixed supplementary duty of Rs. A fixed supplementary duty of Rs. 8.00 / – by fixing Rs. 120 / – and a fixed supplementary duty of Rs.
Bidi: A fixed supplementary duty of Tk 11.25 by fixing the retail price of 25 sticky bidis without filters at Tk 25 and a fixed supplementary duty of Tk 9.00 by fixing the retail price of 20 sticky bidis with filters at Tk 20.
Jorda and Gul: To fix the retail price of Jorda at Rs 45 per 10 gm and fix a specific supplementary duty of Rs 28.00 and to fix the retail price of Jorda at Rs 25 per 10 gm and to fix it at Rs 15.00.
According to the anti-tobacco proposal, raising the price of all tobacco products, including cigarettes, by imposing a specific tax in the final budget would encourage about 1.3 million adults to refrain from smoking, preventing premature deaths of 445,000 adults and 448,000 young people in the long run. There will be additional revenue of Tk 9,200 crore from customs, health development surcharge and VAT.
Dhaka University Professor of Economics took part in the press conference. Rumana Haque, Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids (CTFK) Bangladesh Senior Policy Advisor. Ataur Rahman and Grants Manager. Abdus Salam, Mortuza Haider Liton, Convener of Atma, ABM Zubair, Executive Director of Pragya and leaders of various anti-tobacco organizations. Hasan Shahriar, head of Pragya’s Tobacco Control Project, analyzed the budget proposed by Atma’s co-convener Nadira Kiran and presented the demands.
Source: Bhorer Kagoj by www.bhorerkagoj.com.
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