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Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry yesterday urged the opposition BNP not to call any more hartals for the sake of the country's economy.
Leaders of the country's top trade body said the political leaders should find an alternative to hartal to protest against government activities since hartal was not a solution.
Further hartals would only bring woes for the economy and the people, the leaders said at a hurriedly-called-for media briefing at the FBBCI office in Dhaka.
The chamber called for the briefing while businesses were being hurt by hartals of the opposition on three consecutive days.
The BNP called the hartal after former lawmaker and party leader Ilias Ali went missing.
“We do not want anymore hartals. We should come out from the hartal culture. More than 95 percent of the people do not like hartals,” said FBCCI President AK Azad at the briefing.
Mentioning deterioration of law and order over the last few months, Azad said protecting the lives and properties of the citizens was the duty of the state.
“We are also sorry for Ilias Ali going missing. He is not only a political leader, he is a father, he is a husband, he is a brother and he has a family. But, hartal is not the way to find him,” Azad said.
Asked about the losses caused by hartals, the FBCCI president said they do not have the exact figures but it hampers the overall economic activity particularly the export-import operations.
He said the business community would respond positively, if political leaders wanted them as a medium or platform for resolving contentious political problems.
The business community was not under security threats but in a state of discomfort with the political situation, he mentioned.
Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said anymore hartals would only damage the economy as the export of ready-made garment products, the country's main foreign currency earner, was being hurt.
The garment exporters would have to face order cancellations, demands for discounts, expensive air transports, delayed payments from buyers due to hartals, he said.
Garment manufacturers are facing a challenge in the EU and the US, two main destinations of the country's apparels, due to the economic crises over there “and hartal is hampering the production at the factories seriously at this critical moment,” he said.
Echoing the same, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) President AKM Salim Osman said workers employed in factories on piece-rate basis were the worst sufferers of hartals.
They do not receive any pay if the production stopped, he said, adding, “We should assist the law enforcers so that they can find Ilias Ali.”
Syed Tarique Mohammad Ali, a director of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “I decry hartals.”
Sheikh Kabir Hossain, president of Bangladesh Insurance Association, said insurance companies were directly affected by hartals as these financial institutions have to pay policy holders for any damage in untoward incidents.
Kazi Akramuddin Ahamed, a representative of Bangladesh Association of Banks (BAB), said many loans would default as some borrowers would not be able to pay the instalments due to halt in production at their factories.
Amir Hossain Khan, president of Bangladesh Dokan Malik Samity, a platform for the retail shop owners across the country, said the shop owners were the worst sufferers of hartal as they cannot open their outlets.