রবিবার, ১৪ এপ্রিল ২০২৪, ১১:১০ পূর্বাহ্ন

Increase Tobacco Products’ Prices by Imposing Specific Taxes

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Update : বৃহস্পতিবার, ১৩ এপ্রিল, ২০২৩

Speakers at a Journalists’ Workshop

Staff Reporter, Dhaka : Tobacco products must be taken out of the people’s purchasing power by imposing specific taxes in the upcoming national budget of FY 2023-24. This would reduce tobacco-induced diseases and deaths, increase government revenue and ease revenue collection. Most countries have already chosen specific taxation as the best available method to tax tobacco products. It is high time for Bangladesh to follow suit and introduce such a modern method to tax tobacco. There is much scope for the media to uphold public interest by playing a strong role in facilitating the introduction of specific taxes. Speakers said this today (12 April 2023, Saturday) during a journalists’ workshop titled “Tobacco Price and Tax Measures: Budget 2023-24”, held at BMA Bhaban of the capital. The workshop was jointly organized by PROGGA (Knowledge for Progress) and Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA), with support from Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids (CTFK). A total of 29 journalists from print, television, and online media participated in the workshop.

It was informed in the workshop that, as per the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for its loan package, Bangladesh needs to raise its revenue by an additional 0.5 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the next FY. Hiking the prices of harmful products, such as tobacco products, can help the country in meeting a considerable portion of such an ambitious target. Compared to other cigarette tiers, a price hike at the low tier helps the impoverished tobacco users more as it encourages them to quit smoking. 75 percent of all cigarette smokers of Bangladesh are the users of low-tier brands. Unfortunately, the supplementary duty imposed on this tier stands at a mere 57 percent.

The budget proposals regarding tobacco prices and taxes presented during the workshop are as follows:
The retail price of the low-tier cigarettes should be increased to BDT 55 for 10 sticks from the existing BDT 40, followed by BDT 35.75 as specific supplementary duty (65 percent of the final retail price). In the medium-tier of cigarettes, the retail price should be hiked to BDT 70 for 10 sticks from existing BDT 65, followed by BDT 45.50 as a specific supplementary duty; and in the high-tier, the retail price and supplementary duty for 10 sticks should be BDT 120 (from existing BDT 111) and 78.00 respectively. In the premium tier, the numbers should be increased to BDT 150 (prices for 10 sticks) from existing BDT 142 and BDT 97.50 (specific supplementary duty).

As per the proposal presented during the event, for non-filtered bidis, the retail price for 25 sticks, which is currently BDT 18, should be increased to BDT 25, followed by Taka 11.25 as a specific supplementary duty. In the case of filtered bidis, the retail price for 20 sticks should be set at BDT 20 from the existing BDT 19, to be followed by a BDT 9.00 as a specific supplementary duty.

Regarding smokeless tobacco, the retail price for 10 grams of jarda should be hiked to BDT 45 from the existing BDT 40, followed by BDT 27.00 as a specific supplementary duty. For 10 grams of gul, the retail price should be increased to BDT 25 from the existing BDT 20, and to be supplemented by BDT 15 as a specific supplementary duty. The budget proposals also suggest imposing 15 percent VAT on the retail prices of tobacco products and continuing the existing 1 percent health development surcharge (HDS).

It was also said that the implementation of the tax and pricing proposals of anti-tobacco activists would raise BDT 9,600 crores in additional revenues and prevent the premature deaths of 4.88 lakh adults and 4.92 lakh youths.

During the workshop, the budget proposal was presented by Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Haq, National Professional Officer, World Health Organization (Bangladesh Country Office) and Md. Hasan Shahriar, Project Head, Tobacco Control, PROGGA. Discussants of the event include Dr. Mahfuz Kabir, Research Director of Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS), Md. Abdus Salam, Program Manager, Campaign for Tobacco-free Kids (CTFK) Bangladesh, Mortuza Haider Liton, Convener, ATMA, Nadira Kiron and Mizan Chowdhury, Co-convener of ATMA, and ABM Zubair, Executive Director, PROGGA.

It should be noted that tobacco claims more than 161,000 lives every year in Bangladesh. In FY 2017-18, the toll of tobacco use in the national economy (due to medical expenses and loss of productivity) stood at BDT 30,560 crore which is much larger than the revenue contribution of tobacco sector (BDT 22, 810 crore). Hiking prices of tobacco products discourages the youth from getting hooked on this deadly habit and encourages the current users, particularly the poor, to quit


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