Bandar Seri Begawan - During yesterday's 9th Legislative Council meeting session, Yang Berhormat Orang Kaya Maha Bijaya Awang Haji Othman bin Uking put forward the recommendation that the tax levied on cigarettes in the Sultanate should be increased several times the current amount.
The speaker cited obvious medical reasons for the need to implement stronger measures that could assist in reducing the number of smokers in the country; as well as a Fatwa issued by the State Mufti of Brunei Darussalam highlighting that the activity is forbidden.
"This is aimed at bringing an end to heavy smokers. Also the price hike and the tax collected from the cigarettes can be utilised to finance the treatment of patients suffering from smoking-related illnesses. At the same time, when these smokers finally choose to quit smoking, the money they used to buy cigarettes can now be better used such as the family's monthly basic necessities and the expenses of raising a family".
In response to this, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, the Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office said that these recommendations would be examined in depth.
He also shared the current status of cigarettes in the country, stating that the government has managed to reduce the amount of cigarettes brought into the country, and that as of 2012, some four million cigarettes were still brought in - a figure he went on to criticise as still being too high.
He also said that the number of cigarette 'smuggling cases has dropped slightly due to firm actions taken by the Royal Customs and Excise Department in imposing fines dating back to 2011, when 414 cases were recorded, while 396 cases of smuggling were recorded in 2012.
"The Royal Customs and Excise Department will continue to work with the public and government agencies to enhance their enforcement activities to control cigarette smuggling activities."
The minister urged the public to continue to support and cooperate with the Royal Customs and Excise Department in combating the smuggling of contraband cigarettes.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin