Workers, traders demand cut in tax on bidi


Hundreds of workers have formed a human chain to protest the ‘conspiracy oriented’ tax hike on bidi from the Fiscal Year 2020-21 which already has affected the livelihood of several lakh ultra-poor workers, traders and cultivators amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has hiked the tax on bidi influenced by a vested quarters of cigarette companies to ruin the country’s long traditional tobacco farming, producing trading, said a press release.

Speakers said this in a human-chain organized by Rajshahi Bidi Sramik Sangram Parishad held at in front of National Board of Revenue (NBR) Divisional Office on Wednesday. 

They have placed some seven demands, including withdrawal of recently hiked of tax Tk 4 per cent in each packet of bidi, removal of 10 per cent advanced income tax on bidi, declare the bidi as the cottage industry and hiking the wages of labors, creating three price level classification like cigarette, steps for ban the counterfeit bidi production, marketing and sale as well as immediately forming the bidi industry preservation act.

A delegation of the demonstrators also sent a memorandum with the demands to the NBR Chairman through Tax Commissioner of the Rajshahi Divisional Office to take the necessary steps in this connection.

Citing that there was no tax on bidi during the regime of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the Premiere’s previous instruction to reduce tax on bidi industry for fiscal year 2009-10 as the livelihood of workers, traders and cultivators run smoothly, Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation’s Central President MK Bangali said, the NBR authorizes ignoring the instructions, influenced by the  vested quarters of cigarette companies, have increased 4 per cent tax in each packet of bidi from the beginning of the current fiscal year while they hiked only two per cent tax in each packet of low and medium level cigarettes that clear the conspiracy against the bidi industry.

He urged the governed to fix the price of each packet of the low quality cigarette at Tk 100 while each packet of bidi Tk 10 only and taking initiatives. Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation’s (BBWF) Executive President Amin Uddin BSs, General Secretary Abdur Rahman, Publication Secretary Shamim Islam and Joint Secretary Herik Hossain, and Rajshahi Divisional Bidi Sramik Sangram Parishad Convenor Amzad Hossain, among others, spoke in the program.