Bidi workers demand withdrawal of proposed duty
Workers of Bidi factories demanded withdrawal of what they said illogical duty imposed in the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2019-20.
They the proposed duty was enhanced by four times from previous duty, the leaders of the workers told a post-budget press conference at National Press Club on Sunday.
They said the enhancement of duty will compel the Bidi manufacturers to fix for pack of Bidi at Tk 14, which will be too costly for the poor tobacco consumers.
The demanded that the duty must be reconsidered so that a pack of cigarettes could be sold at best at Tk 10.
Bangladesh Bidi Sramik Federation (BBSF) organized the press conference.
Federation president MK Bangali read out a written statement while joint secretary Md. Harik Hossain presided over the conference. Executive President Amin Uddin BSC, General Secretary Abdur Rahman, co-secretary Pranab Dathan, organizing secretary Abul Hasnat Lavlu, among others, were present.
Hundreds of the workers from different parts of the country participated at the event and raised slogans in support of their demands.
In the written speech MK Bangali said, "The duty on Bidi, consumed by poor section of people, was discriminatory. Bidi's duty has been increased by 24.2 percent while the duty on the low-cost cigarettes has been hiked only by 5.71 percent."
" Bidi's supplementary duty has been increased from 30 percent to 35 percent, on the other hand, multinational companies do not see any spike in supplementary duty on low-end and expensive cigarettes."
"The previous Finance Minister has set the timeline for closure of the Bidi industry by 2030. But cigarette industry has been given time till 2040. Such policy is inhumane for a domestic industry like Bidi," he added.
He said Bangladesh is trying to destroy the Bidi industry while India has been protecting the same, through protective policy.
"In India, duty on every thousand Bidi is only Tk 14 where we have to pay Tk 313.60 in Bangladesh. That is conspiracy to terminate our industry."
At the press conference, the workers' leaders voiced their 8-point demand that includes lowering low-end Bidi price to Tk 10 from Tk 14, cutting supplementary duty to Tk 14 for every thousand Bidi following India, the supplementary duty must be increased on low-end and expensive cigarettes.
They said the advance income tax on Bidi must be revoked, Bidi industry should immediately be declared as "Cottage Industry" following the policy of Bangabandhu.