Saturday, March 25, 2023

DCCI dismayed by govt’s silence on ‘tobacco ban’

Throwing the gauntlet at the state government to respond to the ban imposed on tobacco products by NSCN/GPRN(Khango), Dimapur Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) has expressed shock and disappointment at what it described as “utter silence” of the state government even a week after declaration of the ban on tobacco products in the state.
DCCI through its media cell maintained that it had “no say” in the ban on illegal drugs and alcohol, which were already banned under Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act (NLTP). DCCI clarified that since the NLTP Act has listed items that were banned, on the other hand, tobacco products cannot and should not be clubbed together with illegal drugs or alcohol.
DCCI reiterated that tobacco products were being sold with full knowledge and permission from both the Centre and state governments. It stated that the Centre earned maximum revenue from tobacco products out of which even the state governments also receive their share as Goods & Service Tax (GST).
Furthermore, DCCI asserted that tobacco products are legal since they are permitted to be sold legally after paying due taxes. However it said if a blanket ban is imposed on them, then it will affect the livelihood of thousands of shopkeepers in all districts of Nagaland. DCCI also cautioned that banning of tobacco products will only lead to black marketing, increase in prices of tobacco products and, ultimately, result in syndication , as evidenced by the current implementation of the NLTP Act. DCCI said the ball is in the state government’s court to “make a firm decision” on whether selling of tobacco products after paying all taxes, was ‘legal’ or ‘illegal’.
The chamber stated the government should not remain complacent as it involved the livelihood of not only the tobacco products dealers and distributors, but those of thousands of petty shopkeepers.
DCCI urged upon the government and its agencies to immediately ensure that dealers of tobacco products and shopkeepers were not harassed because of the ban by the NSCN/GPRN(Khango).
DCCI has also appealed to NSCN/GPRN (Khango) to lift the ban in the interest of the state as a whole especially the struggling business community.
Meanwhile, DCCI has cautioned shops selling tobacco products to strictly follow the COPTA guidelines, which prohibits sale of tobacco products to minors and sale of tobacco products near educational institutions.


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