Business & Finance News

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Compiled by SDNP

Head Lines

Floods put business to a pause
50pc factories in Savar submerged

The Daily Star,

Engulfed by floodwaters and crippled by absence of workers, over 50 percent industrial units in the low-lying parts of Savar have been forced to stop production.

The owners of other flood-affected factories have shifted heavy machines to upper floors to keep production going but they can manage only partial operation as 40 percent of their workers are abstaining from duty due to the flood.

However, Dhaka Export Processing Zone (DEPZ) in Savar is still safe from flood, M Kamal Akhtar, general manager of DEPZ, said yesterday.

Refat Ullah, chairman of Savar Pourashava, said the magnitude of flood has already crossed the 1998-level and the industries in the area will suffer huge loss due to the continued disruption of production.

"Half of the factories have already stopped production. The machines of garment, textile, spinning, dyeing and finishing factories are highly expensive and the owners are concerned more about the machines than production," he told The Daily Star.

Attendance in factories is also low as most of the workers' houses have gone under water. Crops on 4,000 hectares of land have been damaged and fishing farms will suffer Tk 10 crore loss as dikes are inundated by water, he said.

Though the Dhaka EPZ is yet to be affected by the flood, the DEPZ authorities are taking precautionary measures to face possible inundation.

The EPZ compound is two feet above flood level and if the factory basement is taken into account the EPZ is five feet above the level, the DEPZ general manager said.

The water level was 9.10 metres high yesterday around the EPZ while the water level needs to rise to 10.25 metres to enter EPZ and 12.25 metres for factory premises.

"We had meeting with investors to review the situation. At present, they have no problems other than low attendance of workers. Some investors are asking for space inside the EPZ for their workers whose houses have gone under water," Akhtar said.

The DEPZ authorities are taking help from Water Development Board and met office to continuously monitor the situation.

The investors are however concerned about the condition of partially inundated Dhaka-Ashulia road connecting the EPZ, the DEPZ official said.

The 355-acre exclusive industrial zone houses 72 local, foreign and joint venture enterprises providing employment to 50,000 people.

Established in 1993, DEPZ has a total investment of $304 million. In 2003-2004, $667 million worth of products were exported from the EPZ.

Emran Hossain, an official of Modhumoti Tiles at Hemayetpur, said, "We were forced to stop production when water reached the ground floor last week."

The premises of Pride Textiles, Navana Furniture, Aftab Automobiles, Anlima Dyeing and Printing, Kazi Mahi Hatcheries and Poultry, Samah Pharmaceuticals, National Beverage, Surma Foods and other factories in Hemayetpur area are now under waist-deep water and production has come to a halt.

"We are in distress. We don't know when we can resume production," Mizanur Rahman, an officer of Pride Textiles, said.

Pakija Textiles and Garments, Five Star Poultry, Universal Poultry and Hatchery and Yarakibu Poultry farm in Imandipur area are also affected by the deluge.

Hamidul Haque of Five Star Poultry said the sector is still suffering from the loss of bird flu scare and the flood has come as a final blow. "Farm owners having upper floors have huddled chickens there and who have not, are being forced to sell poultry birds at cheap rate due to shortage of space. We have stopped procuring new chicks for rearing."

Industrial units at Palashbari, Bank Town, Nama Bazar, Rajashan, Pandua, Islamnagar, Nabinagar and in and around Savar municipal area have been fully or partially submerged by floodwaters.

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SAARC summit in Dhaka to be millennium model : PM

The New Nation, By BSS, Dhaka
Jul 26, 2004, 07:56

Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia on Saturday hoped that the 13th SAARC Summit in Dhaka in January next year would further strengthen the South Asian grouping to play a far- reaching role in establishing peace, carrying out development and alleviating poverty in the region.

"We want the next summit to be a millennium model in both organisational and substantial aspects," she said while presiding over a preparatory meeting on the coming summit of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) to be held in Dhaka on January 9-11.

The seven-nation regional grouping will enter into its third decade with the holding of its 13th Summit in Dhaka where it was formally launched in 1985. This will be the third SAARC Summit in Bangladesh.

Held at International Conference Centre (ICC) at the Prime Minister's Office, the summit preparatory meeting decided to form a national committee and several sub-committees for smooth organising of the SAARC summit.

Adviser of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Reaz Rahman will work as the chief coordinator of the national committee.

The committees would have to be 'functionally effective' and 'dynamic in work', the Prime Minister told the meeting adding, if required, distinguished personalities and retired officers can be included in the committees.

At the beginning of on Saturday 's preparatory meeting, Foreign Minister Morshed Khan gave a detailed description of the activities of his ministry so far in regards to the summit.

According to meeting sources, the capital city will be decorated colourfully and attractive cultural programmes will be arranged on the occasion of the SAARC summit.

Speaking at the meeting, the Prime Minister observed that concerted efforts by all can make it possible that the success of the Dhaka summit would be recognised again and again in next summits in other member countries.

LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, Health and Family Welfare Minister Dr Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain, Foreign Minister M Morshed Khan, Information Minister M Shamsul Islam, Housing and Public Works Minister Mirza Abbas, Telecommunications Minister Barrister M Aminul Haque, Dhaka City Mayor Sadek Hossain Khoka, Adviser of Foreign Ministry Reaz Rahman, State Minister for Home Lutfozzaman Babar, State Minister for Power Iqbal Hassan Mahmud, State Minister for Cultural Affairs Selima Rahman, State Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Mir Mohammad Nasir Uddin and Prime Minister's Political Secretary Harris Chowdhury attended the meeting.

Cabinet Secretary Dr Saadat Hussain, Prime Minister's Principal Secretary Dr Kamal Siddiqui, Chief of Army Staff Lt. Gen. Hassan Mashhud Chowdhury and secretaries and senior officials concerned were also present.

The Prime Minister said all concerned would have to work with dedication to make the SAARC summit a success as the event is a matter of proud for the country.

She said the country must have full preparation to uphold its stand and opinion clearly and firmly in the summit. Initiatives would have to be taken to highlight Bangladesh's involvement in SAARC since its inception and the recent achievements of the country in different fields, she added.

Begum Zia said security of the heads of state or government from the SAARC countries would have to be ensured properly and the security of other guests be taken care of at the same time.

Efforts would be on to further improve law and order in Dhaka and other parts of the country, she added.

The Prime Minister underscored the need for ensuring uninterrupted supply of water, electricity and gas during the summit and said a modern and high quality media centre would have to be set up with all facilities required.

She said it is a matter of hope that the importance and role of SAARC is increasing after the last two summits in Kathmandu and Islamabad while many big international organisations are failing to uphold their roles and responsibilities in the present global context.

So, the holding of SAARC Summit in January next by Bangladesh is a matter of proud, she added.

She recalled that Shaheed President Ziaur Rahman sent letters to heads of government or state of South Asian countries in May 1980 for launching the SAARC.

The quarter century of Bangladesh's involvement with SAARC would be complete next year, Begum Zia said, adding that the next summit is very important for the country for all these reasons.

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BGMEA urges buyers to help avoid stock lot

The New Nation, By Staff Reporter
Jul 26, 2004, 07:29

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) yesterday sought cooperation from the international buyers and their local agents in Bangladesh to avoid stock lot of garments.

The BGMEA President Annisul Huq in a statement said, flood and calamity are natural to Bangladesh. There is no way to prevent such types of disasters. Not only the life of the people in Bangladesh but also the economy of the country are not safe from the negative effect of devastating flood.

“Considering flood as natural disaster, the international buyers should have their sympathies for the garment sector,” he said.

The BGMEA president also urged the local representatives of international buyers to lobby in their head offices in favour of country’s garment sector to help avoid stock lot.

According to the survey of Flood Co-ordination Cell of the BGMEA, about 1,061 garment industries in Dhaka and Narayanganj were inundated by floodwaters, affecting five lakh employees. If the water continues to rise, another 1,177 garments will come under water and another 5.5 lakh workers will be affected. Most of the garments, affected by floods are now facing stoppage of production.

The BGMEA also urged the government to set up ferry services at Kanchpur point for continuation of delivery of garment goods.

© Copyright 2003 by The New Nation

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ADB team discusses reform in Rly sector

The Bangladesh Observer,

A high-powered pre-appraisal mission of ADB in a meeting at the Communications Ministry on Sunday discussed reform of Bangladesh railway sector to give it a modern look, reports UNB.

Communications Minister Nazmul Huda told the donors that the government has decided to make the railway sector more “dynamic and vibrant” and necessary reform programme would be implemented for upgrading Bangladesh railway.

The Asian Development Bank delegation, led by Tadashi Kondo, Transport and Communications Director of ADB South Asia Department, is in Dhaka to assist in different development projects of Bangladesh railway.

The delegation laid the highest emphasis on the uplift of Dhaka-Chittagong “economic rail corridor” as they said import-export trade of Bangladesh would be enhanced alongside augmentation of operational capacity of Chittagong seaport.

They emphasized formulation of an action plan for strengthening the activities of Bangladesh railway.  “ADB is very eager to assist in various infrastructure development projects of Bangladesh railway. But our investment will totally depend on the implementation of reform for the Bangladesh railway,” the team was quoted as telling the government side at the meeting.

Nazmul Huda told the mission that reform programme of Bangladesh railway would be placed at cabinet meeting for approval and initiative taken for its implementation.

Communications Secretary Shafiqul Islam and DG of Bangladesh Railway AFM Mustafizur Rahman were present among others.

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