MNA National Desk: Saber Hossain Chowdhury, a ruling Awami League MP, has pointed to the serious “conflict of interest” between the government of Bangladesh and the tobacco industries, saying that this is threatening the Prime Minister’s commitment to make the country tobacco free by 2040.
He also said that he will vote ‘no’ in the upcoming budget, putting his membership at stake if tobacco control measures are not properly adopted.
Chowdhury, known as an anti-tobacco champion in Bangladesh, was speaking at an annual research findings dissemination seminar of the Bangladesh Center for Communication Programme, BCCP, in Dhaka on Monday.
“The government of Bangladesh owns shares in British American Tobacco and here we have a situation when the Prime Minister made a political commitment declaring in public and yet the government continues to have shares,” Chowdhury said, referring to Sheikh Hasina’s declaration to make tobacco free Bangladesh by 2040.
“And this is not just having shares, they [the government] also have members in the board of directors. So government is managing and directing the company.
“This is a clear conflict of interest,” he said, adding that this is also violation of the WHO’s Framework Convention of Tobacco Control of which Bangladesh is a signatory.
The prime minister made the commitment to make Bangladesh tobacco-free by 2040 at the South Asian Speakers’ meet in Dhaka in 2016.