‘Effective tobacco taxation will increase revenue collection remarkably’

Speakers at Unnayan Shamannay’s roundtable

Published : 07 Jan 2022 08:56 PM | Updated : 08 Jan 2022 05:09 PM

Speakers at a roundtable discussion on Thursday said effective tobacco taxation can be ensured- not only tobacco consumption will decrease, but the tax collected from tobacco sales will increase significantly. 

They said there is no alternative to effective tobacco taxation if we want to attain the goal of tobacco-free Bangladesh set by the honorable Prime Minister. 

Alleging that in the budget of the ongoing fiscal year, the proposals for effective tobacco taxation have not been reflected adequately, they said however, if those proposals are reflected in the budget for the next fiscal year, then- on the one hand, tobacco consumption will decrease significantly, and on the other hand, tax collected from tobacco sales will also be increased. 

However, for that to happen all stakeholders including the policymakers, the National Board of Revenue, and anti-tobacco social organizations must work together in a coordinated manner. 

The roundtable titled “Effective Tobacco Taxation: Roadmap for Tomorrow” was held at the Bishwo Shahitto Kendro building on Thursday.

Organized by non-government research organization UnnayanShamannay, the session was moderated by eminent Economist and former Governor of Bangladesh Bank- Professor Dr. Atiur Rahman.

Members of Parliament participating in the roundtable discussion were- Umme Kulsum Smriti, MP (Gaibandha 03);NazmaAkther, MP (Women Seat 46); Dr. Samil Uddin Ahmed Shimul, MP (Chapai Nawabganj 01); Md. Mozaffar Hossain, MP (Jamalpur 05); S. M. Shahjada, MP (Patuakhali 03); and Abdul Mannan, MP (Laxmipur 04).

Dr. Atiur Rahman said that both the challenges and opportunities associated with tobacco taxation must be considered with caution. 

He opined that the NBR is under pressure to increase revenue collected. However, if effective tobacco taxation can be ensured- not only tobacco consumption will decrease, but the tax collected from tobacco sales will increase significantly. 

Nazma Akther, MP said that if the honorable Parliamentarians are keen about effective tobacco taxation from the beginning of the calendar year, then it is most likely to bring about positive change in the budget for the next fiscal year.  

Read more: ‘Increase VAT on tobacco to discourage smoking’

Along with increasing tobacco taxes, the anti-tobacco social campaigns must also be further strengthened- said Dr. Samil Uddin, MP; while S. M. Shahjada, MP emphasized on taking strong steps to ensure that all offices and educational institutions remain tobacco-free. 

Abdul Mannan, MP opined that policy attention is required to ensure that tobacco cultivators are motivated to shift to other cash crops.

Md. Mostafizur Rahman (Lead Policy Advisor, CTFK) said that- effective tobacco taxation has already been proven to be the best strategy to reduce tobacco use. Hence, all stakeholders must emphasize effective tobacco taxation. Other discussants were- Prof. Dr. Sohel Reza Chowdhury from National Heart Foundation, Dr. Syed Mahfuzul Haque (National Professional Officer, WHO), Md. Shafiqul Islam (Head of Programs, Vital Strategies), Dr. Mahbub Hasan (Political Analyst, UnnayanShamannay), and Zahid Rahman (Member Secretary, National Char Alliance).

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