Sunday, May 19, 2024

Businesses threaten to take to the streets

Protest against prolonged political impasse
Enraged over the prolonged political crisis that pushed businesses on the verge of collapse, top business leaders of the country on Sunday threatened to take to the streets if the ruling party and the opposition fail to resolve the impasse. They also blamed the ‘mindless act of the country’s political leadership’ for the present chaos and said that if such scenario continues, people would be compelled to take over the leadership from political parties.
The business leaders said this at the white flag rally, organised by the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers and Commerce and Industries (FBCCI), from 11:30 am to 12 noon in the capital, to protest the damage of trade and industrial infrastructures due to frequent hartal and blockade.
FBCCI President Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed said this programme has been arranged to send a message to the country’s two major political parties. “We just want to say that businesspeople want peace in the country and sympathy of all parties.”
“If politicians fail to restore peace, the business community will be compelled to announce tougher programmes,” he warned.
The ongoing political deadlock is putting the country’s trade and commerce as well as the national economy in jeopardy, he said.
Demanding an end to all kinds of political violence, the apex trade body president said hartal and blockade are hindering the normal movement of people as well as smooth supply of goods.
Akram urged the central bank not to classify loan of businessmen if they fail to pay the loan instalments in recent times following the ongoing political turmoil. “We are observing with great dismay that the ongoing blockades and hartal programmes have become violent and created panic among the general people,” he said.
In the name of peaceful hartal and blockade, political party activists snapped the communication system and set fire to vehicles, he added.
Many people were killed and hundreds were injured due to the blasts and petrol bombs hurled by pickets during the recent blockades, he said.
Condemning such movements, the FBCCI president urged political parties to ensure security for businessmen, workers and general public.
Demanding a business-friendly environment across the country, Akram said the government has to ensure security for the people. “We want the two major political parties [Awami League and BNP] to reach a consensus and resolve the ongoing crisis,” he added.
Referring to their earlier initiative to resolve the crisis, Akram said although they had met the top leaders of both the parties for holding a dialogue, the leaders did not pay any heed to the proposal. “Now, the leaders of the both parties have started talks. But many lives have already been lost, and trade and commerce are badly hit due to the turmoil,” he said.
“If the top leaders of the ruling and the main opposition parties sit across the table, it will open a way for peace and a congenial atmosphere to hold the national election with the participation of all parties,” he added.
Expressing grave concern over the arrest of renowned businessman Abdul Awal Mintoo, the business leaders also demanded his immediate and unconditional release.
Former FBCCI president Salman F Rahman said, “If politicians fail to resolve the ongoing political impasse, they will have to hand over the leadership to the people of the country.”
“We respect politicians. But now, we have lost our confidence in them for the ongoing activities,” he added.
The entire socio-economic system has been affected due to the prevailing negative politics, he said, laying emphasis on the restoration of peace in the country.
“The businessmen only formed a human chain in a peaceful manner today, but they will take to the streets if the politicians fail to resolve the ongoing crisis,” he said.
Another former FBCCI president Mir Nasir Hussain said the country has turned into a virtual battle field. He stressed on security of the general public alongside business establishments.
The immediate past FBCCI president, AK Azad, said the country’s bank, insurance and readymade garment industries are on the verge of collapse. “Shops, trucks and buses, along with passengers and goods, are being set on fire in the name of hartal and blockade,” he added.
“Such situation cannot persist,” he said, urging the two major political parties to bring peace and ensure a business-friendly environment through resolving the ongoing political disputes by fruitful dialogues.
He also threatened to stage a sit-in-programme in front of the offices of both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader unless the both leaders reach a consensus.
Another former FBCCI president, Annisul Huq, said, “After the Liberation War in 1971, we had a dream of building industries here. But, the ongoing political violence has shattered the dream.”
He urged the two major political parties to resolve the crisis through dialogues.
Atiqul Islam, president of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said the backbone of the apparel sector has broken due to the ongoing ‘ill-politics.’ “We cannot find out any way to recoup the losses incurred by the prevailing political violence,” he added.
Earlier, leaders of the BGMEA, BKMEA (Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association), BTMA (Bangladesh Textile Mills Association), along with around 5,000 apparel manufacturers and workers, marched towards the FBCCI Bhaban from the BGMEA Complex around 11am and joined the programme.
The businesspeople and the workers lined up on the streets in front of the FBCCI building from 11:30 am to noon, carrying white flags in support of their demands for an end to the ongoing instability and for ensuring a business-friendly environment.
Meanwhile, leaders of eight national and 32 local business bodies, under the banner of Narayanganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), observed a similar programe at Chashara from 11am to noon supporting the FBCCI initiative.
According to a NCCI press release, over 10,000 businesspeople joined the programme, led by NCCI and BKMEA president AKM Selim Osman.

-With The Independent input

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