Tax plans threaten bidi industry collapse

| June 19, 2014

Plans by the government of Bangladesh to raise the prices of bidis in the next fiscal year would send the industry to the verge of collapse, according to a story in the Daily Star, quoting researchers.

A price hike would take a heavy toll on the businesses operating within the bidi sector, which were already struggling with spiralling costs of production, said professor Mesbah Kamal, chairperson of the Research and Development Collective.

Kamal spoke at a seminar on the national budget and bidi workers, organized by the research firm at The Daily Star Centre in Dhaka.

Under provisions of the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, the price of a 25-stick pack of nonfilter bidis would increase from BDT5.35 to BDT6.14. And the price of a 20-stick pack of filter bidis would increase to BDT6.94 from BDT6.05.

About 2.5 million people are now engaged in 90 bidi factories throughout Bangladesh, down from 218 factories in 2001.

“Any type of tobacco is injurious to health,” said Monirul I. Khan, chairman of the sociology department at Dhaka University. “If the government wants to ban tobacco, it can do that. But the government must protect the bidi workers until alternative employments are created.”

Category: Breaking News

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