Speakers at a rally in Rangpur city have demanded that bidi sector be declared a cottage industry like in neighbouring India.
Rangpur City Corporation Mayor Mostafizar Rahman Mostafa attended the rally as the chief guest while Bangladesh Bidi Workers Federation chairman Amin Uddin presided over it held at Rangpur Public Library ground on Thursday.
The Federation organised the gathering to press its six-point charter of demands.
Mayor Mostafa said if the bidi industry is shut, three million people of the country will be unemployed with bidi workers in Rangpur region being affected the most.
“The government wants to protect the rights of the people, not to kill them... If the cigarette industry is allowed to exist in this country, the bidi industry should also be allowed to,” he said.
General secretary of the Federation MK Bangali, Joint general secretary Abdur Rahman, organising secretary Herik Hossain, Awami League metropolitan unit general secretary Tushar Kanti Mondal and Jatiya Party district unit senior vice-president Shamsul Alam among others addressed the rally.
The demands of the Federation include equal treatment of bidi and cigarettes industries, declaring bidi a cottage industry like in India, fixation of customs duty at Tk14 for per thousand of bidis, and waiver of tax for bidi factories that produce less than 20 lakh sticks.
The speakers said due to the increase in tax on bidi and the decrease in the prices of cigarettes, bidi factories of the country are gradually shutting down.