05/04/2009, 00.00
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Anti-crisis measures: Hubei orders public servants to smoke local cigarettes

The local government hopes in this way to support production and increase income from tax. A purchase list for every city and village is drawn up, with fines for those who do not reach quota of cigarettes and public chastisement for officials who smoke foreign brands.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Zhangtiansi village (Hubei) has to buy 400 cartons of cigarettes in a year for its public servants.  If it does not meet the quota then it will be fined one thousand Yuan, warns the Hubei provincial government web site cnhubei.com.

In efforts to stimulate the economy and increase income from tax, Hubei’s government has ordered its public servants to only smoke locally produced brands.  The aim is to consume at least 23 thousand cartons in a year, for a total cost of 4 million Yuan (circa 400 thousand Euros).  A list of exactly how many cigarettes each local administration has to buy has also been drawn up with fines for those who do not reach quota.

Gongan County has even set up checks: “inspectors” found teachers in one school smoking foreign brands and the news was reported on the website cnhubei.com, inviting the government to “publically chastise” such “acts of indiscipline”.

According to local sources, in 2008 Gongan cashed in on 22 million Yuan in cigarette tax.  Across the nation the tobacco industry counts for 10% of national income.

The Hebei initiative is nota n isolated one: various provinces have announced additional taxes on foreign cigarettes to discourage their use, or in some cases they have banned their sale.


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