The Bogura District Bidi Workers and Employees Unity Union has formed a human chain on Tuesday demanding the safeguard of the bidi industry from the aggression of foreign multinational tobacco companies and a reduction in the tariff imposed on bidi in the upcoming fiscal.
Thousands of bidi workers gathered in front of the Bogura Customs office a human chain there at around 11:00am.
Addressing the human chain, reduction of tax on bidis, withdrawal of 10 percent income tax on bidi, the workers demanded non-issuance of bidi factory license without inspecting the spot, enactment of protection law for the workers engaged in the bidi industry and taking legal action against the counterfeiters by the customs authorities.
After the human chain, the leaders of the bidi workers handed a memorandum over to the chairman of National Board of Revenue through the Deputy Commissioner of Bogura Customs, Excise and VAT Department. Speakers said, “Millions of workers including the helpless, disadvantaged, extremely poor, physically handicapped and widows make a living by working in the bidi sector. But the country's ancient labor-intensive industry is being destroyed by the conspiracy of foreign multinational companies.
Multinational companies were smuggling thousands of crores of rupees abroad by burning the lungs of the people of this country. Some corrupt local officials are taking advantage of foreign multinational companies and imposing excessive taxes on bidis. Bidi owners are being forced to close their factories as they cannot bear the burden of this exorbitant tax, he said
As a result, the workers are living a dehumanized life. Besides, advance income tax on cigarettes is 3 percent and advance income tax on bidis is 10 percent. We want to repeal this discriminatory advance income tax.
Speakers also said, “Some unscrupulous bureaucrats are conspiring to increase tariffs on bidis to give foreign cigarette companies a monopoly. Due to the increase in tariffs, unscrupulous traders are making fake bidis and marketing them to evade the tariff.
The government is being deprived of huge amount of revenue. It is even creating confusion in the minds of the people by hiding the real number of bidi workers to destroy the bidi industry and workers. We strongly condemn and protest against this, they said.
If there is a conspiracy against the bidi workers, we will be forced to go for a tough movement, they added.
Bidi workers leaders MK Bangli, Abdur Rahman, Joynal Abedin, Harik Hossain, Abdul Gafur, Shamim Islam, Anowar Hossain and others spoke in the human chain.