Tk 900cr collected as health surcharge remains idle

Staff Correspondent | Published at 10:17pm on August 24, 2017


Around Tk 900 crore collected as health development surcharge on tobacco products remained idle as the government is yet to formulate guidelines on use of the fund even after three years of introduction of the surcharge.
The National Board of Revenue collected the amount in the last three fiscal years at the rate of 1 per cent on value of all kinds of tobacco products including cigarette, bidi, gul, zarda and other smoking and chewing tobacco products.
The government imposed the surcharge in July 2014 aiming to spend the fund for implementing the programmes to control and discourage the use of tobacco products and prevent tobacco-related diseases.
Health ministry is supposed to formulate a
policy on the use of the surcharge.
In absence of a policy, the ministry is also not getting access to the fund collected in FY 2014-15, FY 2015-16 and FY 2016-17.
Officials of the revenue board said that Value-Added Tax wing of the NBR was responsible to collect the surcharge while collecting VAT at production or import stage and deposit to the government exchequer while the health ministry would decide on how the fund would be utilised.
The ministry has finalised a draft of the guideline titled Health Development Surcharge Management Policy after taking feedback from relevant stakeholders including the revenue board and ministries of finance, industries and agriculture, they said.
An inter-ministerial meeting held last February approved the draft of the guideline, they added.
Officials involved with the development said that the ministry was supposed to place the draft before the Cabinet for its approval by this month.
According to the draft, the fund will be used to control tobacco consumption, conduct research, for treatment and rehabilitation of tobacco-related diseases and awareness building against the health hazards of tobacco, they said.
The fund will also be spent to run the national tobacco control programme of the National Tobacco Control Cell under the health ministry. The cell is now run with donor fund.
Health ministry officials said that they had completed the necessary preparations to place the draft policy before the cabinet for its approval.
Once getting approval of the cabinet, the policy will be sent to the finance ministry to finalise the process of expenditure of the surcharge, they said.
They said that hopefully the obstacles behind the utilisation of the fund would end soon.