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Cabinet clears Surcharge Management Policy to control tobacco

The Cabinet has approved the draft of the ‘Health Development Surcharge Management Policy-2017’, aiming to control tobacco use, prevent non-communicable diseases as well as create mass awareness against the bad impacts of tobacco.

The approval was given at a meeting of the Cabinet held at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Briefing reporters after the meeting at the Bangladesh Secretariat, Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam said a law is already there for controlling tobacco use and the policy has been formulated as a guideline in this regard.

Shafiul Alam said some specific suggestions have been incorporated in the policy regarding tobacco control and its use to establish Bangladesh as a smoking-free country by 2040 as declared by the Prime Minister.

The cabinet secretary said surcharge has already been imposed and the Ministry of Health is getting nearly Tk 300 crore a year while the fund is used for implementing various purposes of the health sector, particularly the tobacco control and checking non-communicable diseases.

He said the fund will be used in 14 specific sectors to help ensure long-term management in the health sector, especially to create awareness among people against tobacco, prevent farmers from cultivating tobacco and create alternative employment opportunities for them.

Besides, research and training will be conducted as well as monitoring and evaluation would also be accomplished under the new policy.

The Cabinet also approved the draft of ‘The National Academy for Planning and Development Bill, 2017’ translating the original law of 1979 into Bangla.

Describing the new law as a prototype one, Alam said there will be board of governors of the institution like other bodies.

The proposed law mentioned formation of a 15-member board of governors and relevant minister and state minister will be made the chairman and vice-chairman of the institution, while its director general will act its member secretary.

The Cabinet also approved in principle the draft of the ‘Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Council (BCSIR) (Amendment) Bill, 2017’.

The Cabinet Secretary said the law was first enacted in 2013 where there was a provision of retirement age of 67 years for those researchers who have special talents and qualifications.

But, with the passage of time, some difficulties were created since the Policy in this regard was not framed. Under the circumstances, the Cabinet approved a proposal for amending the law to delete that section.

At the very outset of the meeting, the Cabinet adopted a felicitation motion as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been regarded as ‘Star of the East’, ‘The Mother of Humanity’ and was compared with ‘Raoul Gustaf Wallen-berg’ by the international media.

A leading daily newspaper of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently highly appreciated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for her humane approach on the Rohingya issue, dubbing her as the ‘new star of the East’.

“The Bangladesh Prime Minister is the new star of the East …

expressions has no better hero than her this week – for her compassion and empathy in opening the border to save thousands of fleeing Rohingya,” noted journalist Allan Jacob wrote in an article in the Khaleej Times, the longest running English language newspaper published in the UAE.

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