Rajshahi, March 10 (Correspondent/OurVoice): Rajshahi Birhi Sramik Union and Kormochari Unity Parishad has formed a human chain on Thursday demanding to press home a five-point charter of demand including withdrawal of 10 percent income tax on birhi in the budget.
Thousands of birhi workers gathered in front of the Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce and formed a human chain there at around 11:30 am.
Addressing the human chain, reduction of tax on birhis, the workers demanded non-issuance of birhi factory license without inspecting the spot, enactment of protection law for the workers engaged in the birhi industry and taking legal action against the counterfeiters by the customs authorities.
After the human chain, the leaders of the birhi workers handed a memorandum over to the chairman of National Board of Revenue through the Rajshahi Chamber of Commerce.
Abdur Rahman, chief guest in the human chain, said, “Millions of workers including the helpless, disadvantaged, extremely poor, physically handicapped and widows make a living by working in the birhi sector. But the country’s ancient labor-intensive industry is being destroyed by the conspiracy of foreign multinational companies.
Multinational companies were smuggling thousands of crores of rupees abroad by burning the lungs of the people of this country. Some corrupt local officials are taking advantage of foreign multinational companies and imposing excessive taxes on birhis. Birhi owners are being forced to close their factories as they cannot bear the burden of this exorbitant tax, he said
As a result, the workers are living a dehumanized life. Besides, advance income tax on cigarettes is 3 percent and advance income tax on birhis is 10 percent. We want to repeal this discriminatory advance income tax.
Other speakers said, “Some unscrupulous bureaucrats are conspiring to increase tariffs on birhis to give foreign cigarette companies a monopoly. Due to the increase in tariffs, unscrupulous traders are making fake birhis and marketing them to evade the tariff.
The government is being deprived of huge amount of revenue. It is even creating confusion in the minds of the people by hiding the real number of birhi workers to destroy the birhi industry and workers. We strongly condemn and protest against this, they said.
If there is a conspiracy against the birhi workers, we will be forced to go for a tough movement, they added.
Birhi workers leaders Abdur Rahman, Amin Uddin (BSc), Nazim Uddin, Harik Hossain, Abdul Gafur, Abul Hasnat Lavlu, Shamim Islam, Anowar Hossain and others spoke in the human chain.