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Businessmen vent anger against parties

Staff Correspondent

Businessmen launch a mass signature campaign in front of BGMEA Bhaban in Dhaka on Saturday to protest at the ongoing political crisis and blockade. — Sanaul Haque  Businessmen launch a mass signature campaign in front of BGMEA Bhaban in Dhaka on Saturday to protest at the ongoing political crisis and blockade. — Sanaul Haque

Business leaders on Saturday threatened taking to the streets along with their workers and employees if major political parties failed to reach a consensus in three to four days.
Asking political parties why businessmen would fall victim to their politics of confrontation, they said that miscreants had already burnt Standard Garments factory and owners were still burning in the fire of politics.
‘We have been forced to announce agitation programme as the industry and the economy are on the verge of collapse because of the current political crisis,’ the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association president, Atiqul Islam, said at a human chain in front of the the BGMEA building.
The apparel exporters’ association, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters’ Association and the Bangladesh Textile Mills’ Association organised the programme demanding a resolution to the political crisis, a business-friendly environment and punishment of the people responsible for fire in apparel factories.
Urging two major political parties to end the political crisis immediately, he said that if the situation persisted, factory owners and other businessmen would not able to pay wages to their workers, instalments to banks and make payment for back-to-back letters of credit and insurance premiums.
Atiqul urged political parties to keep industries outside political programmes and said that frequent vandalism and arson attacks had almost broken the supply chain. The apparel industry has been the prime victim of the situation as exporters were failing to maintain their production schedule.
‘The government will need to ensure the security of industries and uninterrupted business-friendly environment. Businessmen will, otherwise, not bear the responsibility for worker wages and the payment of bank loan instalments and taxes of any type,’ he said.
If the garment industry collapses because of the political crisis, the livelihood of more than seven crore people [directly and indirectly involved in the sector] will stand threatened and political parties will need to shoulder the responsibility, he said.
Former BGMEA president Annisul Huq said that the apparel business was headed towards a collapse because of political unrest.
‘We urge chiefs of two major political parties to reach a consensus. If they fail to do so, they will lose support,’ he said.
Former BGMEA president Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez said that it was not acceptable that political parties would do violence to meet their demands and businessmen would fall victim to such violence.
‘If necessary, we will lay siege to offices of the prime minister and the leader of the opposition demanding an end to the politics of conflict,’ he said.
Former BGMEA president Shaiul Islam Mohiuddin requested two main leaders to ensure security of the life of people and a business-friendly environment or to retire from politics. ‘Do not try to ignore the united force of the businesspeople.’
Dhaka University professor Anwar Hossain expressed his solidarity with the programme and said that unity and awareness of people were needed to drive evil forces out of the country.
Former Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president AK Azad, FBCCI vice-president Helal Uddin Ahmed, former BGMEA presidents Anisur Rahman Sinha, Abdus Salam Murshedy and Mustafa Golam Kuddus, BTMA president Jahangir Alamin, BKMEA vice-president Mohammed Hatem, among others, spoke.
BGMEA leaders, however, said that the apparel sector had incurred more than Tk 4,500 crore in losses in the past 35 days as many orders were cancelled and many shipment needed to be sent by air as
exporters failed to maintain schedule because of the general strike and blockade.
BGMEA vice-president Shahidullah Azim told New Age that they had faced general strike and blockade for 21 days from November to till date and the sector had incurred more than Tk 200 crore in losses each day.




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