Only 4 days left for work 6 hartals plus weekends, holiday serve severe blow to economy

Only 4 days left for work

The economy is set to bleed after the exports and service sector have become a hostage at the hands of the opposition parties, with the fall in productivity punctuated by holidays and weekends.

Until April 14, when the country will celebrate Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year 1420, the total economy will be reduced to only four workdays so far this month, thanks to six shutdowns.

Each shutdown cost Tk 2,000 crore, and the garment industry, which accounts for 80 percent of all the country’s exports, loses Tk 360 crore for a day’s hartal, according to the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).

“We have already become a hostage to politics,” Asif Ibrahim, former president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), said yesterday.

“Buyers are cancelling orders. We are counting losses every day. This cannot continue for long,” he added.
Experts say it is the day-labourers, small businesses and roadside stores, who feed the country’s majority population, bear the brunt very badly.

Small businesses and labourers say their income suffers for at least two days for a day’s shutdown.
With tomorrow’s hartal called by Islami Chhatra Shibir, there would be six days of hartal in the first two weeks this month.

After tomorrow’s shutdown there will be a three-day holiday, including Sunday, for Pahela Baishakh.
There were no hartals on April 1, 3, 4 and 7.

The BNP-led 18-party alliance called a 36-hour shutdown, demanding the immediate release of its leaders and activists while Shibir complimented it with Thursday’s hartal for what it said “in protest of torture” on its president Delwar Hossain in police remand.

Thanks to yesterday’s hartal, the Higher Secondary Certificate and equivalent examinations have been rescheduled for April 13. The new date for tomorrow’s exam will be announced today.

Asif Ibrahim of DCCI said politics was supposed to be for the benefit of the people and the country. But in Bangladesh, it has become “a selfish and ruthless hunger” for power, even at the cost of damaging the economy and the future of 160 million people.

“The politicians have lost all sense of sanity,” said Asif, also a leading garment exporter.
Develop partners are also worried about the deepening political crisis.

Asian Development Bank yesterday said the government’s budget revenue target could weaken if political unrest intensified enough to markedly disrupt economic activity.

FBCCI President Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed echoed the worries, saying: “The country will not be able to achieve its revenue generation target this fiscal year if a congenial environment for investment and the political stability cannot be ensured.”

Source: The Daily Star

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