Policy needed to save leather industry, help seasonal traders

Published: 00:00, Aug 26,2018 | Updated: 00:40, Aug 26,2018

 
 

Trade in rawhides has remained unstable as people are forced to sell very cheaply rawhides of sacrificial animals at Eid-ul-Adha as the government set lower prices this year. Seasonal traders incurred huge losses despite collecting rawhides at low prices as wholesalers did not maintain the prices set by the government. The wholesalers at the beginning showed unwillingness to buy the rawhides in apparent efforts to further lower the prices at the last moment when seasonal traders would have no option but to sell them at any price. A seasonal trader alleged that he had bought more than 200 pieces of cowhide for Tk 600 a piece on average but wholesalers offered Tk 400 only a piece; he was forced to sell the rawhides for Tk 400 a piece.
This year the government set the prices of salt-treated rawhides of sacrificial animals at a six-year low showing excuses of a fall in prices of hides on the international market. It announced the prices of salted cowhide at Tk 45–50 per square feet in Dhaka and Tk 35–40 outside Dhaka. The price of cowhide has been reduced by 43 per cent since 2013. According to a wholesaler, the best quality of cowhides was traded for Tk 1,500 a piece in Dhaka and the price of the same quality of hides was at Tk 2,200 a piece in 2017; the lowest price of cowhides was Tk 700–800 a piece this year, which was Tk 1,200 a piece in 2017. Although the Bangladesh Hide and Skin Merchants’ Association president said that the prices of rawhides had decreased on the wholesale market as a good number of tannery owners failed to pay dues to the merchants because of the relocation of their tanneries, one must recall that tannery owners were granted 15 per cent cash incentive by the government. They were given all kinds of assistance by the government in cash and kinds. It should be noted that a section of wholesalers have colluded with the tannery owners for long to form a syndicate to exploit the seasonal traders and consequent upon that, seasonal traders often become losers in rawhide trade because of their capital shortage. The one irreparable mistake committed by the government was that it did not set the prices of rawhides without salt. We expect that the government would do it in no time to rescue the seasonal traders from this alarming situation.
The government must realise that seasonal traders in rawhide business are an indispensable part of the leather industry. It must, therefore, set prices of sacrificial animal hide taking into consideration the rise in prices of essential commodities and bringing about a change in its policy that must be based on egalitarian principles.

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