Lawmakers want protection of bidi industry

More than 50 lawmakers from different areas of the country have submitted demi official (DO) letters to the Prime Minister and the National Board of Revenue (NBR) recommending reductions in existing tariffs on the bidi industry in the upcoming fiscal 2020-21 budget.

Besides, more than two hundred request letters have been sent to both PM and NBR from different representatives, including Zila Parishad chairmen, Upazila chairmen, municipality mayors and district and upazila presidents of Awami League.

They have emphasised in these letters to the Prime Minister and the Chairman of the National Board of Revenue protection of the livelihood of millions of poor bidi workers.

The list includes Kishoreganj-3 MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu, Nilphamari-4 Ahsan Adelur Rahman who is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Ministry of Labour and Employment, Barisal-6 MP Nasrin Jahar Ratna, Kurigram-3 lawmaker MA Matin, Dhaka-4 MP Abu Hossain Babla, Cox's Bazar-1 lawmaker Zafar Alam, Nilphamari-3 MP Rana Mohammad Hohel, Joypurhat Khetlal Upazila Chairman Md Mostakim Mondal, and Panchagar Upazila Chairman Kazi Mahbubur Rahman Dablu.

In the DO letters, the MPs said the bidi making is a cottage industry, which concentrates on rural areas and employs mainly women, many of whom are widowed or divorced.

They said the current epidemic of coronavirus has stopped the work of bidi workers, but their life does not stop.

The lawmakers said bidi factory owners have to take the responsibility of feeding millions of workers and that is why the duty on bidi industry cannot be increased to sustain their activities.