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Economy

Meeting at commerce ministry fails to resolve construction industry issues

01 April 2018,Sunday, 23:25



Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed on Sunday said the government will take necessary measures to keep the prices of construction materials at a reasonable level.

“Steps will be taken considering that the business entities in this sector do not face losses and the suppliers also survive,” said the commerce minister, while meeting stakeholders of the construction industry around 1pm at his Secretariat office, reports UNB.

Tofail had called the meeting to ascertain the real reasons behind the apparently sudden hike in prices of key inputs for the industry, namely MS-Rod and cement, over the last few months and its impact.

The meeting was called after the Bangladesh Association of Construction Industry (BACI) on Thursday threatened to even stop all construction activities, unless the government took necessary steps to bring down the prices of rod and cement to ‘a tolerable level’ by April 15.

The commerce minister also assured the businessmen that his ministry would discuss the issue with the Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader and Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan.

It was learnt that during the meeting itself, the construction companies and their suppliers of input providers expressed divergent views on the reasons for the increase in rod and cement prices.

Cement and steel makers said the prices shot up due to hike in raw material prices in the international market, extra cost of goods handling in the port, as well as increased transportation costs, impact of gas and electricity price hikes, and higher interest rates.

Construction company representatives directly contradicted the point about higher costs of raw materials in the international market, and dismissed the other gripes as routine for any business.

“In such a situation, the prices of rod and cement should be reduced. Otherwise, the speed of development activities will be halted,” the businessmen said.

As such, the meeting failed to identify the reasons behind the price hikes, sources said.

Bangladesh Auto Re-rolling and Steel Mills Association President Monwar Hossain and BACI President Monir Uddin Ahmed presented their respective statements at the beginning of the discussion.

Industry and trade affairs secretary of the Central Committee of Awami League MA Sattar who was also present at the meeting said, “I call upon the businessman of all sectors to take care that development is not hampered.”

He also assured the traders that he would consult with the Prime Minister if needed to solve the problem.

In the meeting, FBCCI president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin, former president Mir Nasir Hossain and senior officials of the commerce ministry were also present.

The FBCCI president said, “If price increases in the international market, it will have to be increased in the local market. But, the government should have to monitor it as prices do not increase unwisely.”

“Businessmen do not want any unrest during the election year. We will not tolerate if anyone tries to embarrass the government,” he added.

It has been reported that the cost of each ton of rods increased by more than Tk 10,000 within a month while the cement price increased more than Tk 50 per bag.

According to the officials of Trading Corporation of Bangladesh, 60 grade-MS Rod has been selling for Tk 70,000 per ton, which was Tk 59,500 a month earlier.

On the other hand, a cement bag of 50 kgs is being sold for Tk 450 which was Tk 400 a month back.

The meeting had to end with the issue unresolved.

 

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