April 20, 2024, 12:29 am

Bidi workers Human chain with five demands in Khulna

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Update : Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Staff Reporter, Dhaka : Khulna Zilla Bidi Workers Sangram Parishad Tuesday laid siege to the Khulna Chamber of Commerce & Industry office to press home their Five demands, to reduce tariffs on bidis in the budget for the next 2023-24 fiscal year.

About thousands of bidi workers gathered in front of Khulna Chamber of Commerce & Industry Office and staged demonstrations there in the morning.

Their demands are reduction of tariff from Tk 18 to Tk 16 on bidis in the forthcoming 2023-24 budget, stopping all revenue evasion bidis including unverified (online) licences, withdrawal of income tax on bidis, increasing the price of low quality cigarettes from Tk 40 to Tk 50 and stopping the aggression of British American Tobacco.

The labor leaders, later, handed over a memorandum to the President of Khulna Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

Addressing the speakers said, “Millions of workers including the helpless, disadvantaged, extremely poor, physically handicapped and widows make a living by working in the bidi sector. But the country’s ancient labor-intensive industry is being destroyed by the conspiracy of foreign multinational companies.

Multinational companies were smuggling thousands of crores of rupees abroad by burning the lungs of the people of this country. Some corrupt local officials are taking advantage of foreign multinational companies and imposing excessive taxes on bidis. Bidi owners are being forced to close their factories as they cannot bear the burden of this exorbitant tax, they said

As a result, the workers are living a dehumanized life. Besides, advance income tax on cigarettes is 3 percent and advance income tax on bidis is 10 percent. We want to repeal this discriminatory advance income tax.

“Some unscrupulous bureaucrats are conspiring to increase tariffs on bidis to give foreign cigarette companies a monopoly. Due to the increase in tariffs, unscrupulous traders are making fake bidis and marketing them to evade the tariff. The government is being deprived of a huge amount of revenue.

They also urged the customs authorities to take necessary steps to halt unlawful bidi manufacturers and counterfeit bidi. They should be arrested and punished.

Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation General Secretary Abdur Rahman, Joint Secretary Harik Hossain, Anower Hossain were present in the programme among others.

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