Jasim Uddin Haroon
and Jubair Hasan
The country’s corporate sector is bearing the brunt of ongoing political turmoil as sales and production in most entities have dropped sharply for the last few weeks, sector insiders said.
Small as well as big business firms and production units are counting financial losses as the off-take of goods has been facing serious disruption due to the on-going restive political situation across the country.
Industry insiders however have expressed their fear that their production might face closure if the present situation persists.
They said stock of food items in the factory premises has started bulging as delivery of the same has slowed down, leading to rise in the prices of items at the retail level.
Md Fazlur Rahman, chairman of City Group, one of the leading manufacturers of food items, said: “Our factories are the worst suffer of the ongoing hartal (general strike).”
Mr Rahman said “our stocks of flour, sugar and edible oils have increased to such an extent that we are now facing storage problem”.
He said: “We’ll close our factories if the situation persists.”
Industry insiders said many of them have dropped plans for expansion of existing facilities or making new investment under the prevailing circumstances.
Md Mostafa Kamal, chairman of another food item manufacturer — Meghna Group of Industries – said: “I’ve no room left in my godown now due to the slow off take of goods.”
He said: “Over the last couple of days (Sunday and Monday), no commodity went out of the factory in anticipation of troubles on the roads.”
The edible oil-to-pure drinking water maker expressed the fear that the current trend would make them loan defaulters as their daily turnover has declined fast due to the general strike.
Industrialists said products particularly the demand of which is highly elastic suffer most during such type of programmes.
Matiur Rahman, Chairman & Managing Director of Uttara Motors Limited said: “Last day (Sunday), my sales across the country was zero.”
“I have a feeling that the sales of motor bikes and vehicles will be zero today (Monday) as well,” Mr Rahman said.
The automobile company sold motorbikes numbering 102203 in 2010-2011, the highest by a single automobile assembling company.
The chief of Uttara Motors said: “I’ve already squeezed my assembling plan following the political programmes,” he added.
Abul Kalam, managing director of TK Group, said this (confrontational politics) is a key worry for them adding: “We’ve dropped plans to invest in the context of the current political situation.”
He said there are lots of factors that act as incentives for the private sector to make investment, and one is clearly political stability, said managing director of TK Group, a edible oil-to-chemical product manufacturer.
The construction sector suffers much as the presence of the day labourers becomes thin during the general strikes.
Aameir Alihussain, managing director of BSRM, the largest steel maker in the country said: “Our sales dropped sharply as we could not supply rods for the last couple of days.”
He said many lorries were burnt to ashes during this spell of general strikes noting: “The fear of arson has forced us to stop sending steel produces laden trucks during night hours.”
Md Jahangir Alam, managing director of MI Cement said: “My cement sales dropped to 10,000 bags Sunday against the average daily sale of 110,000 bags.”
He said transportation of cements was made using river routes on Sunday.
“I don’t know how many bags will be sold Monday,” he said.
Mr Jahangir said an expert team was due to visit his Chittagong factory to install a new technology adding: “They cancelled their programmes due to the hartal.”
He said the new technology was supposed to be procured by his company through deferred payment noting, “Now it has become uncertain.”
“We don’t want to get into a position where we have to lay our factories off,” Mr Alam added.
Kamruzzaman Kamal, director (marketing) at the agro-processing company of Pran said: “Our transportation of goods across the country was almost zero during the last two days.”
He said their dairy wings was one of the victims of the shutdown as the transportation of liquid milk from northern districts remained suspended over the last two days due to hartal.
Pran processes milk at its Narsingdi plant.
It is risky to carry milk from Pabna to Narsingdi, a route of nearly 300 kilometres, Mr Kamal added.