Cabinet approves Health Development Surcharge Management Policy

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DHAKA, Oct 17, 2017 (BSS) – The cabinet yesterday gave approval to the draft of “The Health Development Surcharge Management Policy-2017” aimed at controlling the use of tobacco and creating mass awareness against the adverse impacts of tobacco on human health.

The draft was given nod at a meeting held at Prime Minister’s Office yesterday morning with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.

Cabinet Secretary Mohammad Shafiul Alam briefed reporters after the meeting at Secretariat here.

A law is already in place for controlling the use of tobacco, he said, adding that 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 earlier declared by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The cabinet secretary said surcharge has already been imposed and Taka 300 crore per year is being deposited into the health ministry. The fund is used for various purposes of the health sector, particularly in tobacco control and preventing non-communicable diseases.

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

Besides, activities on national tobacco control, research and training will be conducted along with monitoring and evaluation and such activities under the new policy. Shafiul Alam said the policy would play a significant role in implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) regarding health sector.

The cabinet also approved the draft of “The National Academy for Planning and Development Law, 2017” translating the original law of 1979 into Bangla.

The cabinet secretary said the National Academy for Planning and Development was established in 1980.

The institution was set up in line with an ordinance titled “The Government Education Training Institution Amendment Ordinance” promulgated in 1979 during the martial law rule.

He said the fresh law has been brought in Bangla as per a verdict of the Supreme Court that had declared all martial laws as illegal.

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

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

If the state minister doesn’t exist, the secretary concerned of the ministry will perform as the vice-chairman of the institute.

“Other members of the institution will be included in the board from the government officials and private representatives to be appointed by the government,” he said.

The cabinet secretary said other rules of the institution like fund, budget, audit and account would remain as same like other organisations.

The cabinet also approved in principle the draft of “The Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research Council (BCSIR) (Amendment) Law, 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 as the policy in this regard was not framed.

Under the circumstances, the cabinet approved a proposal for amending the law to delete that section, he added.

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 compared with ‘Raoul Gustaf Wallen-berg’ by the global media.

Khaleej Times, a leading daily of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), recently highly appreciated Bangladesh 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.

British Media Channel 4 has recently described Sheikh Hasina as ‘The Mother of Humanity’ for her stance about the influx of Rohingya nationals into Bangladesh.

The Asian Age has recently compared Sheikh Hasina with Raoul Gustaf Wallen-berg who was a Swedish businessman and diplomat. Raoul is still recalled by people across the world for saving the lives of thousands of Hungarian people from German Nazi force’s holocaust during the World War II.

Raoul Wallenberg was posted in Hungary as Swedish Consul General while the World War II was going on. He issued Swedish visa to all these Hungarian people to enable them to move away to Sweden from Hungary during the World War II to avoid the carnage by the German troops.

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