10 days ago

NBR fears revenue loss for smuggled cigarettes

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The National Board of Revenue (NBR) has expressed the fear of revenue loss and adverse impact on local industries due to abundant supply of smuggled cigarettes.

There has not been seen any official import of foreign cigarettes during the last one year while the market is flooded with smuggled cigarettes, says a notice of the board.

The NBR has also observed a slide of revenue earning from sale of the premium segment by 22 per cent while high segment by 19 per cent until February, 2024 of the current fiscal year.

Following the trend, the board has issued a 'cautionary notice' on sale, marketing, import and supply of foreign cigarettes in Bangladesh.

In the notice, the NBR said all packets of imported cigarettes must have label of warning 'Smoking is injurious to health' in Bangla.

"The NBR would seize foreign cigarettes and take legal action as per law in case of detection of under possession of any individual or company," it said.

According to the customs act and import policy, manufacturing, import, supply, marketing and sale of foreign cigarettes is a punishable offence.

Also, VAT law considers storage, sale, supply and marketing of cigarette, bidi without bandroll a punishable offence.

"Recently, foreign brand cigarettes such as Oris, Mond, Dunhill, 555, Esse, Ezee etc became available in the market despite having no legal import," the NBR said in the notice.

Imported cigarettes are available across the country, even in remote areas, it said.

Smokers prefer foreign premium segment and high segment cigarettes due to cheaper prices than that of local productions and attractive packages, it added.

Tobacco is one the largest source of revenue income in Bangladesh having high tax incidences.

However, former NBR chairman Dr Nasir Uddin Ahmed said volume of smuggled cigarettes is not so high in Bangladesh.

He said the issue was often raised by some quarters to pursue the government to reduce price slab of high and premium brand cigarettes.

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