Round Table Meeting
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National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh, United Forum Against Tobacco (UFAT) and PROGGA (Knowledge for progress) jointly organized a round table meeting on 9th May 2016 at CIRDAP auditorium. The main discussion point of the meeting was বাজেট ২০১৬-১৭: কেমন তামাক-কর চাই । Mr. M A Mannan MP, Honorable State Minister, Ministry of Finance, and Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh graced the meeting as chief guest. National Professor Brig. (Rtd) Abdul Malik, Founder & President, National Heart Foundation of Bangladesh & Chairman, United Forum Against Tobacco (UFAT) presided over the meeting.
Dr. Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmad, Chairman, Palli Karma-Sahayak Foundation (PKSF) and Mr. Hossain Zillur Rahman, Executive Chairman, Power and Participation Research Centre (PPRC) were present in this meeting as panelist. Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP, Mr. Abdul Matin Khasru MP and Mr. Md. Nobi Newaz MP were present as special guest. Ms Roxana Quader, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Health & Family Welfare, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh; Mr. Mozaffar Hossain Paltu, Senior Vice President, Central Executive Committee, NATAB; Professor Arup Ratan Choudhury, Founder President, MANAS were also present as honorable guest. Professor Dr. Rumana Haque, Department of Economics, University of Dhaka and Mr. Hasan Shahriar, Coordinator, PROGGA presented the key note presentation. Meeting was moderated by Nadira Kiron, Chief Reporter for ATN Bangla and Co-convener for ATMA.
Honorable State Minister said in his speech that Bangladesh Government is considering the issue `Raising tobacco tax’ in the upcoming budget with great importance and abolishing of price slab on cigarette will be prioritized. He also said- planning of imposing annual licensing fees for the tobacco furnaces, raise export duty from 10%, and annulling the duty-free facilities for cigarettes are underway.
Qazi Kholiquzzaman said that the existing slab-based tax system should be removed.
Mr. Hossain Zillur Rahman said that awareness is not only important issue, obligations should be developed for tobacco control and raising tobacco tax is one of the important strategies. He also stated that increasing tobacco tax has no chances to create any negative impact on the national economy.
Mr. Saber Hossain Chowdhury MP has mentioned about the Government share in tobacco industries. He said while honorable prime minister has given obvious guidelines to make Bangladesh tobacco free within 2040 and her Government is taking initiatives in this regards, now it is high time to think about the withdrawal of those shares.
Mr. Abdul Matin Khasru MP expressed his straight opinion that tobacco kills, so cultivation of it should be stopped totally. At the same time tobacco products should be expensive by raising tax as those become beyond purchase.
Mr. Md. Nobi Newaz MP said that tobacco spoils our young generation fatally. Raising tax on tobacco products to make those unavailable is a very important effective strategy. But moral education is now an important area thinking also. In educational curriculum tobacco and its health hazards should be included.
Honorable guests and participants of this round table meeting have placed valuable and very relevant proposals before honorable state minister. Such-
- ♦ Abolishing the existing price slab on cigarette
- ♦ Price of tobacco products should be adjusted with inflation and with the per capita income annually.
- ♦ Impose specific excise tax equivalent to 70% of MRP on all types of cigarettes.
- ♦ Bidi, zarda and gul should experience a 40 and 70 percent specific excise tax respectively.
- ♦ Tobacco export duty should be raised from 10 to 25 percent.
- ♦ Imposing an annual licensing fee worth TK 5000 for each of the tobacco furnaces.
- ♦ Strengthen tobacco tax administration, improve enforcement, and tax duty-free sales of tobacco products in order to reduce tax evasion and avoidance.
- ♦ Imposing a 2% health development surcharge on tobacco products to be used for battling with the tobacco related diseases.
Ms. Farida Akhter, Executive Director, UBINIG; Mr. Md. Shariful Alam, Lead Consultant, CTFK; Dr. Mahfuzur Rahman Bhuiyan, Grant Manager, CTFK; Mr. Md. Shafiqul Islam, Country Advisor Bangladesh, Vital Strategies; Mr. Syed Mahbubul Alam, Technical Consultant, The Union South-East Asia Office; Mr. Mozammel Hossain Monju, Deputy Editor, The Daily Samakal; representatives from UFAT, renowned doctors, researchers, senior editors from couple of print media and electronic media and eminent members of civil society, members from anti-tobacco organizations were present in the meeting and shared their views. They expressed their urges to honorable state minister and MPs to ensure abolishing price slabs on cigarettes, raising tobacco tax in FY 2016-17 in such a way which will be adjusted with inflation and tobacco products will become expensive as well.
Major print medias had made big coverage and couple of electronic medias had broadcasted news on this round table meeting. Some photos of that meeting are shared here.