Sunday, June 23, 2024

Frequent strikes worry businesses

Business people have expressed serious concern over the current spate of shutdowns and urged the political parties to reach a consensus, immediately, on a poll-time government, for the benefit of the country’s trade and economy. They expressed deep anxiety over the fallout from the ongoing violent political developments. The situation is hindering uninterrupted production and export-oriented activities, and may deal further blow to businesses, industry sources said on Saturday.
The business leaders are also worried over the arrest of Abdul Awal Mintoo, BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia’s adviser, and a former president of FBCCI, which they said would weaken the businessmen’s initiative to bring both the government and opposition parties to the talks table.
“This was unexpected. We are shocked at the arrest of Abdul Awal Mintoo,” said FBCCI president Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, adding that they had requested the government to state the reason for his arrest. The arrest, Ahmed said, will slow down the initiative taken by the business leaders, to bring the two leaders to the talks-table, to find out an amicable solution to the political deadlock. The FBCCI president, however, said that they will soon take a decision in this regard.
Mintoo, a businessman and former FBCCI president, was very close to Prime Minister and Awami League president, Sheikh Hasina, in the 1990s. Police arrested Mintoo, BNP leaders Barrister Moudud Ahmed, MK Anwar, BarristerRafiqul Islam Mia and BNP chairperson’s special assistant Shamsur Rahman Shimul Biswas from the capital on Friday night.
“We are shocked and surprised,” said FBCCI former president Anisul Huq, also a member of the business delegation that met the Prime Minister on Thursday.
The delegation requested the Prime Minister to resume talks at the secretary level to end the stalemate. But the Prime Minister apparently seemed reluctant to accept its proposal. On November 2, the delegation met Begum Zia and proposed talks between secretary generals of the two parties.
Another chamber leader said with the arrest of Mintoo, the business leaders’ initiative seems to have received a severe jolt. The Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) president, Sabur Khan, also expressed shock and surprise at the arrest of Mintoo.
About the current spate of shutdowns, FBCCI president Kazi Akram said the RMG industry, already hit hard by series of accidents and global meltdown, will face a difficult situation because of fresh spate of shutdown.
The apparel sector apex body, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers’ and Exporters’ Association (BGMEA), also expressed concern over the deteriorating political situation and frequent hartal calls.
Dr Mirza Azizul Islam, a former adviser to the caretaker government, said, “We are afraid that the violence will take more lives in the coming days, unless the two top leaders come to a consensus over the next poll-time administration.” He also urged both the leaders to sit across the table immediately, to resolve the problem.
Former FBCCI president Anisul Huq said,”This is the peak time for shipping ready-made garment items for Christmas. But foreign delegations are reluctant to visit Bangladesh, due to the ongoing political turmoil.”
The current political turmoil is taking its toll on the country’s frozen food sector, industry insiders and exporters said. Frequent spells of hartal have badly affected shrimp and white fish supply to processing units, as well as shipment of their export consignments. Production at processing units have declined substantially, due to non-availability of shrimp and other fishes, following transport problems during hartals.
The political uncertainty has also affected the real estate business, as people are showing less interest in making fresh investment in the real estate sector, Real Estate and Housing Association of Bangladesh (REHAB) general secretary Md Wahiduzzaman said. He said the current business scenario was not good, as import of crucial capital goods, as well as flow of both local and foreign investment, have declined sharply, because of political uncertainties

-With The Independent input

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