Apparel sector trade bodies in the country on Wednesday demanded a waiver from the proposed gas price hike saying that such sudden and irrational price hike of the primary fuel would ruin the sector.
They came up with the demand at a press conference jointly organised by Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association in capital Dhaka.
Leaders of the associations opposed in unison the unexpected price hike proposal saying that the increase would discourage investments.
BGMEA president Siddiqur Rahman said that Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission had recently initiated a public hearing where gas price was proposed at Tk 18.03 per cubic feet, up 132 per cent on the existing price.
The rise would increase production cost in the apparel sector by 5 per cent, which would go against the growth and expansion of the industry and would bring havoc to the sector, he said.
Siddiqur said the surge in the utility price would be another burden to the sector as the production cost had already risen significantly amid a rise in the workers’ wages.
Any fresh utility price hike would reduce international business competitiveness of the country’s apparel sector that eventually would affect the country’s economic growth, he said.
Besides, the entrepreneurs are bearing the high interest rate as banks are yet to cut the rate to single digit as per their recent pledge, the BGMEA president said.
He said it was not the right time to increase the price of gas as businesses just started getting the gas connection after a long wait with huge investments.
He said that industries would not afford the increased gas price at the moment as both textile and readymade garment sectors recently increased the wages of workers while many other costs also went up in recent years.
Siddiqur urged the government to frame an energy policy as soon as possible to favour the industry and the policy should give more priority to export-oriented sectors.
He also urged the government to consider the interest of the productive sector and to give the apparel sector a waiver from the increased gas price to save the sector.
Bangladesh Textile Mills Association president Mohammad Ali Khokon also opposed the gas price hike proposal saying that the proposal was completely illogical before ensuring promised standard of services and uninterrupted supply of gas.
Khokon expressed a deep concern over the gas price hike proposal and said that the increase would make the entrepreneurs bankrupt and hamper employment generation.
Acting BKMEA president Mansoor Ahmed said that if the apparel sector was ruined, it would not be possible for the government to achieve it various development visions.
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