Hike tobacco tax and price to save lives, earn revenues: ATMA

The Anti-Tobacco Media Alliance (ATMA) on Tuesday urged the National Board of Revenue (NBR) to impose specific taxes and hike prices of all tobacco products to discourage people from consuming them.

At a pre-budget meeting in the city, the delegates of ATMA also presented its budget proposals for 2021-22FY and handed over a copy to NBR officials.

They also requested to implement the proposals as a step towards building a tobacco-free Bangladesh by 2040.

ATMA’s budget proposals are— imposing uniform tax rates in all tiers (65 percent supplementary duty on final retail price) and introduce specific excise tax; in the low-tier, the retail price should be set at Tk 50 for a 10-stick pack with a Tk 32.5 as supplementary duty (SD).

For a 10-stick medium-tier cigarette pack, ATMA recommended the retail price at Tk 70 with Tk 45.5 SD. For a same size high-tier pack, the retail price should be set at Tk 110 with Tk 71.5 SD. In the premium-tier, it has suggested setting the retail price at Tk 140 for a 10-stick pack and Tk 91 as SD.

Other proposals include imposing uniform tax rates on filtered and non-filtered bidis (45 percent supplementary duty on final retail price) and introduce specific excise tax.

It recommended setting the price for a 25-piece non-filtered bidi pack at Tk 25 with Tk 11.25 SD. For filtered bidis, it suggested the retail price at Tk 20 for a 20-stick pack and add Tk 9 as specific SD.

Hike prices and tax on Jarda, Gul

The price per 10-gram jarda should be Tk 45 and impose Tk 27 as SD (60 percent of the retail price), ATMA said. It recommended hiking the price per 10-gram gul to Tk 25 and impose Tk 15 SD (60 percent of retail price). It also suggested retaining the existing 15% VAT and 1% Heath Development Surcharge on all tobacco products.

The delegates said implementing the proposed tobacco price and tax measures would prevent around 800,000 premature deaths and additionally earn Tk3,400 crore in revenues.

They said that implementation of ATMA’s proposals would encourage 1.1 million people to quit smoking, prevent 800,000 deaths in the long-term, and earn Tk 3,400 crore as additional revenue for the government.

The recent years have barely seen any decline in the prevalence of cigarette use. Owing to the extremely low tax base and tax rates, tobacco products of all types have remained highly affordable.

The existing tobacco taxation structure is highly complex and incapable of doing enough to discourage the use of tobacco products. As a result, the current tobacco taxation structure fails to contribute to the achievement of a tobacco-free Bangladesh, as declared by the Prime Minister.

According to GATS 2017, 37.8 million adults (15 years old and above) in Bangladesh use tobacco (smoke and smokeless) and 38.4 million become victims of passive smoking at work, public transport and other public places.

Tobacco is responsible for around 126,000 deaths a year in Bangladesh. In 2017-18 FY alone, tobacco incurred a financial loss (from medical expenses and loss of productivity) of more than Tk 30,560 crore, according to ATMA.

Increasing tobacco prices and taxes is safeguarding public health since such move discourages the youth from developing the habit of tobacco use and also effectively encourages the current users, particularly the poor, to quit.

In the pre-budget meeting NBR officials were present along with ATMA representatives include Monir Hossain Liton, Joint Chief News Editor, Ekattor Television; Mortuza Haider Liton, Chief Crimes Correspondent, and convenor, ATMA; Nadira Kiron, News Editor, ATN Bangla and co-convener, ATMA; Doulot Akter Mala, Special Correspondent, The Financial Express; and Mizan Chowdhury, Senior Reporter, Daily Jugantor and co-convener, ATMA.

In the discussion, the NBR member (VAT policy) Md Masud Sadiq said the proposals put forward by ATMA will be sincerely considered.

Source: United News of Bangladesh