The private sector industry and investment adviser to prime minister Salman Fazlur Rahman on Tuesday claimed the Chinese company contracted to build the tannery estate in Savar did not do a proper job, and that’s why there are big problems now.
He made the remark in a virtual meeting titled "Future of Bangladesh Leather Sector in the aftermath of COVID-19” organised by the Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF), in collaboration with the Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) and The Asia Foundation (TAF).
Chairman of RAPID Mohammad Abdur Razzaque and its executive director Abu Eusuf jointly presented the keynote papers there while ERF president Saif Islam Dilal presided and its general secretary SM Rashidul Islam moderated the function.
“The tannery cluster of Hazaribagh has been shifted to Savar urging different experts to make it an environment friendly one. But Chinese builders did not work ‘properly’ at the tannery estate in Savar that’s why there are big problems now,” Salman F Rahman added.
Salman said, “The China government has given us duty free access for Bangladesh. So there is needed over 40 per cent value addition in the products.”
“We have enough raw materials in leather products so it’s very easy to take the opportunity. We will give equal incentive for leather and non-leather products to flourish the sectors. The leather sector will be subsidised to make it standards,” he also said.
He added many businesses evade taxes. They have to be brought under tax net using digital tools. The government needs more revenues now.
“Tanners should use water in limited scale. Otherwise we will impose tax on water,” Salman also said.
Commerce secretary Md Zafar Uddin said they have laid emphasis on leather based products to flourish economy.
“We have already have resolved many pending issues in the leather sector. Leather law has been made for sustainable development of the sector. The COVID-19 has created an impact here,” he also said.
Zafar added The Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) is the main component of the industrial basement in Savar. “So, we are very conscious about it. We are working to resolve problems of the leather sector,” he said.
M Abdur Razzaque recommended that the leather sector needs a sector-specific, realistic, and modern policy framework to address its longstanding challenges and emerging trends in global and domestic markets.
“Efficient operation of the Tannery Estate Dhaka should be of utmost priority in building export supply response. The relative profitability of leather goods exports have important policy implications to consider,” he suggested.
Abdur Razzaque also recommended understanding the likely implications of LDC graduation is important and the scope of post-LDC export incentives should be carefully considered. FDI-led supply chain integration (e.g. Vietnam) is important for export expansion.
Managing director of Apex Footwear Ltd Syed Nasim Manzur, country representative of the Asia Foundation Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj, chairman of BFLLFEA Mohiuddin Ahmed Mahin, chairman of BTA Md Shaheen Ahmed also spoke there.