Except for cigarettes and bidis, all the products are sold at the maximum retail price which is mentioned on the packet. The cigarette manufacturing companies are not following it and selling cigarettes at much higher than the maximum retail price across the country. As a result, the government is losing about Tk 20 crore in revenue every day. To protect public health and stop government revenue evasion, it is important to ensure cigarette sales at the face value of the packet, said tobacco control experts.
They said these things in a workshop jointly organized by Bureau of Economic Research of Dhaka University and Bangladesh Network for Tobacco Tax Policy (BNTTP) for journalists titled ‘Company Evasion in Tobacco Tax Policy System: What to do to protect public health’ at the conference hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy today, March 12, 2023, at 10 am.
Sushant Sinha, one of the researchers of tobacco control and special correspondent of Ekattar Television, presented the keynote speech in the workshop. At the time, he said, tobacco companies make the government afraid that “if the law is amended, the revenue will decrease”. They carried out similar campaigns during the passage of the Tobacco Control Act in 2005 and the amendment of the Act in 2013. But the reality is that the government’s revenue from the tobacco sector has increased 3 times in the last 10 years. Although tobacco use rates have decreased as a result of legislation, revenue has never decreased from previous years. As a result, a tobacco tax policy needs to be formulated along with passing the tobacco control bill to protect public health.
He further mentioned that for raising government revenue and preventing tax evasion, specific taxation system should be imposed instead of ad-valorem system. Besides, digital and automated systems should be introduced for tax collection and for market and sales monitoring of each product. At the same time, the sale of cigarettes and bidi at the packet price has to be ensured.
As the chief guest of the workshop, Hossain Ali Khandkar, coordinator of the National Tobacco Control Cell, said in his speech that the active participation of journalists is necessary to protect public health and control tobacco. The tobacco company’s tactics should be exposed for building public awareness. At the same time, the government should come forward for controlling tobacco through new reports with various statistics and information. Because the issue is related to the mass people’s health of the entire country.
At the same time, advocate Syed Mahbubul Alam Tahin, technical consultant of the international organization, The Union, said that the investigation of the Large Tax Paying Unit (LTU) disclosed that every day about 20 crore more taka is leaving from the consumer’s pocket which is not got the government. Per month Which is about 600 crores and about 7300 crores per year. If this revenue evasion is stopped, it will be possible to treat people free of cost who are suffering from heart disease all over the country.
BNTTP project manager Hamidul Islam Hillol conducted the workshop with various media representatives of the country, tobacco control experts and development workers who expressed and highlighted their views.