The government yesterday tasked the FBCCI with mediating between tanners and rawhide merchants to resolve the issue of the tanners’ non-payment of Tk 400 crore to the merchants.
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun announced this at a press conference after an emergency meeting with tanners, merchants, small traders, and exporters of leather and leather goods at the commerce ministry in the capi-tal.
The minister said the leaders of the associations of both tanners and merchants agreed to accept the decision to be taken by the FBCCI. The merchants will start rawhide sale today.
The commerce ministry called the meeting with the stakeholders to discuss the ongoing crisis in rawhide trade, as the merchants had refused to sell salt-applied rawhide to tanners until they get a substantial amount of the dues.
The merchants were supposed to start selling rawhide to tanners on Saturday, but they didn’t do so, demanding payment of the dues.
Emerging from the meeting, Delwar Hossain, president of Bangladesh Hide and Skin Merchants’ Association, said
they will start sale today as the government, trade bodies in the leather sector and the FBCCI decided to find a solution to the non-payment of the dues.
Humayun said the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry, the country’s apex trade body, is scheduled to hold a meeting with the stakeholders on August 22 to resolve the issue.
There has been a big crisis in rawhide trade since the Eid-ul-Azha as a large number of merchants stopped buying rawhide from seasonal traders, many of whom dumped rawhide by the roadside in more than a dozen districts, failing to sell those.
The merchants alleged that they were cash-strapped as the tanners didn’t clear their dues before the Eid.
Following the Eid, around 35 lakh pieces of rawhide out of more than one crore were thrown away by seasonal traders as they could not find any buyers, said rawhide merchants and tanners. They put the price of the dumped rawhide at Tk 100 crore.
Replying to queries from journalists, Humayun claimed that BNP men had stockpiled rawhide and later threw those away to put the government in trouble.
“When they [the BNP] failed to do well in politics, they entered rawhide business.”
About rawhide export, the minister said it is a lengthy process. If the government thinks rawhide export is needed, it will decide on this later.
“The leather sector is a very potential one. Many vested quarters are out to damage this sector.”
Every year, around 5,000 or 0.05 percent of more than one crore pieces of rawhide get damaged, said the minister, adding that he got the information from field-level traders.
But this year, the damage of rawhide was a bit more than last year’s because of hot weather during the Eid-ul-Azha. Some 10,000 pieces or 0.1 percent of over one crore pieces of rawhide were damaged across the country, the minister men-tioned.
“However, we are very pleased that the leather sector is not facing any problems. We will formulate the leather policy soon,” he added.
Salman F Rahman, private industry and investment adviser to the prime minister, said, “The extent of damage of rawhide was a bit higher in some districts including Chittagong and Sylhet.
“But the number is not more than 10,000 pieces.”