Industry Desk:Speakers at a webinar yesterday stressed the need for working in an integrated manner by all the stakeholders, including the Ministry of Industries, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change and the Ministry of Labour and Employment to order to ensure compliance in the leather sector.
They also proposed to form a Leather Sector Development Authority to ensure the development and smooth supervision of this sector as it is possible to earn around $10 billion to $12 billion from this sector by 2030.
Citing lack of compliance as the major problem of this sector, the speakers also noted that the exporters are getting the lesser price of their products due to noncompliance and the just price of leather products is also not being ensured in the local market.
They made the observations at a webinar titled “An Assessment of the Impact of COVID-19 on Tanneries” organised jointly by the Asia Foundation (TAF), Research and Policy Integration for Development (RAPID) and Economic Reporters’ Forum (ERF) held through Zoom Platform.
Zakia Sultana, secretary of the Ministry of Industries, attended the event as the chief guest.
Additional Secretary of the Ministry of Industries KaziSakhawat Hossain spoke at the event as a special guest.
Managing Director of Apex Footwear Ltd Syed NasimManzur, Vice-Chairman of Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) MizanurRahman, and Executive Director of Bangladesh Labour Foundation AKM Ashraf Uddin attended the webinar as discussants.
Country Representative of the Asia Foundation Kazi Faisal Bin Seraj delivered the welcome remarks while the executive director of RAPID Dr Abu Eusufpresented the keynote paper.
ERF President SharmeenRinvy chaired the event while ERF General Secretary SM Rashidul Islam moderated it.
Terming the leather sector as a very potential one, Industries Secretary Zakia Sultana said that the country could earn around $10 billion to $12 billion per year from this leather and leather goods sector if it is nurtured and monitored properly.
“But, there are many challenges in this sector of which the major one is solid waste management. Companies from the EU, Italy, and India are coming to us, but we’re not getting suitable offers from them,” she said.
Turning to the issue of CETP at Savar, the Industries Secretary mentioned that the previous ETP and the current ETP are not the same. The compliance of the ETP is now in good condition compared to the past and it would become much better in the future, she added.
Zakia also informed her Ministry’s plan to set up another CETP in Rajshahi.
Noting that the Industries Ministry is in conversation with the RAJUK for bringing Hazaribagh out from the ‘red zone’ tag, the Industries Secretary said that there is a scope for producing byproducts in Hazaribagh which will lead to the creation of employment opportunities and export earnings. “But, there is a need for some policy changes in this regard.”
Managing Director of Apex Footwear Syed NasimManzur said that the global supply chain of leather goods has almost collapsed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
He said although there was a scope for increasing the share in the global market under the present circumstances, it is not being possible due to noncompliance in this sector despite having its own raw materials.
Urging the government to withdraw the tag ‘red zone’ from Hazaribagh, he said that the Ministry of Industries alone could not move forward in the leather sector, as an integrated effort is needed in the participation of the Ministry of Labour and Employment and the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
While presenting the keynote paper based on a survey, Dhaka University Prof Dr M Abu Eusuf said that the macroeconomic indicators of Bangladesh are positive despite various challenges.
He said due to non-compliance in the leather sector, Bangladesh is getting around 30 to 40 per cent less price of products.
“The problems in the leather sector have already been identified while strong initiatives are needed for addressing those problems, including solid waste management,” he added.
The RAPID executive director said since the value addition in the leather sector is very high, so the entrepreneurs in this sector want more policy support than financial support.
DrEusuf proposed to form a Leather Development Authority under the PMO for ensuring the management and development of this sector.
Industries Ministry additional secretary KaziSakhawat Hossain said that the government has been implementing various schemes for ensuring the development of this leather sector.
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