All stakeholders, including policymakers, NBR, and anti-tobacco social organizations must work together in a coordinated manner for effective tobacco taxation, speakers said at a roundtable discussion.
The discussion on “Effective Tobacco Taxation: Roadmap for Tomorrow” held at the Bishwo Shahitto Kendro building in the capital on Thursday, said a press release.
Unnayan Shamannay, a non-government research organisation, organised the roundtable meeting.
Speakers stated that effective tobacco taxation is required to achieve Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s goal of a tobacco-free Bangladesh, which also will reduce tobacco consumption and increase tax collection.
Eminent Economist and former governor of Bangladesh Bank Professor Dr Atiur Rahman moderated the session.
Parliament Members Umme Kulsum Smriti, Nazma Akther, Dr Samil Uddin Ahmed Shimul, Md Mozaffar Hossain, SM Shahjada, and Abdul Mannan of were participated in the roundtable discussion.
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Dr Atiur Rahman said that both the challenges and opportunities associated with tobacco taxation must be considered with caution.
He opined, “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 said, “If the 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.”
“Along with increasing tobacco taxes, the anti-tobacco social campaigns must also be further strengthened,” added Dr Samil Uddin.
SM Shahjada emphasized on taking strong steps to ensure that all offices and educational institutions remain tobacco-free.
Abdul Mannan 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 of CTFK said, effective tobacco taxation has already been proven to be the best strategy to reduce tobacco use.
Prof Dr Sohel Reza Chowdhury from National Heart Foundation, Dr Syed Mahfuzul Haque, national professional officer of WHO, Md Shafiqul Islam, head of programmes at Vital Strategies, Dr Mahbub Hasan, political analyst of Unnayan Shamannay, and Zahid Rahman, member secretary of National Char Alliance were also participate the discussion.