In reaction to the recent country budget a post-budget press conference was jointly organized by anti-tobacco activists on 11th June at Press Club VIP lounge, Dhaka.
Rumana Huque, Executive Director of ARK Foundation and Professor of economics at Dhaka University, said that the tax on smokeless tobacco products had not been increased in the proposed budget though more than half of the country’s people use the products (Jorda and Gul). She also mentioned that the use of smokeless tobacco is seen more among women and thus it imposes greater threat for women. The govt. could have earned more by taxation on the smokeless product and securing the public health.
The prices and taxes of premium, high segment cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products have kept unchanged in the proposed budget while the per capita income has raised by 9.27% in the last one year that means tobacco products will be more affordable and tobacco companies will get benefit of it.
Besides, the tobacco tax structure has been made more complicated by creating a fresh cigarette price slab (e.g. foreign brands) in low-segment in the proposed budget 2017-18 which encourages consumer to switch among slabs and facilitates tax evasion by tobacco companies. Although anti-tobacco group demanded for removing price slabs along with imposing higher specific taxes on all tobacco products in the budget 2017-18, there is no reflection of the demand in the proposed budget.
The proposed budget has increased the prices for bidi insignificantly but initiative to remove its tariff value, imposing custom duty (CD) and supplementary duty (SD) on e-cigarettes and its refill packs are adorable.
The event has been covered by the major media houses in the country.