The country’s economists and people in general have welcomed the government initiative to export rawhide to save the seasonal traders as well as save the industry.
Industry insiders say, though the government decision was late to announce, it is saving the seasonal traders, otherwise, they would continue to leave unsold rawhide on the streets, bury rawhide under the ground or dump it into rivers following the steep price fall.
These actions would not only destroy the industry, but also have a severe impact on the environment because of the rotten rawhides, they added.
Immediately after the announcement, even the tanners have urged the government to cancel the decision, on the grounds that it might cause a scarcity of raw materials for the local industry. At the same time, they have come forward to purchase rawhide before their schedule time.
However, despite the tanners opposition, the commerce ministry is still firm in its decision to export leather, as the sacrificial animal’ skins are being sold at much less than the price fixed by the authorities.
Commerce ministry secretary said, “We are still firm in our decision to export rawhide, we are not going to stop the procedure. We want to develop our export industries, for this we will allow to export wet blue rawhide first, then based on the situation; we will export salt-added rawhide”.
Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) president Shahin Ahmed, speaking about the drastic price fall of rawhide said, wholesale dealers are responsible for this uncertain situation, however, they will purchase rawhide from the wholesalers as per the government fixed price.
“We, the tanners, have invested big amounts in the Savar Leather Tannery Estate, which is yet to be fully functional. In this very situation we have to start our operation there, but due to environmental compliance export is decreasing,” he added.
Dr Selim Raihan, professor of the Economics Department, University of Dhaka, said, regulators and government are responsible for this anarchy. This sector is in deep crisis for the last couple of years.
“Despite being a thrust sector of export earnings, the government does not have sufficient planning to make the sector more developed. The present system of collecting rawhide should be reshuffled, otherwise, soon the industry will lose its potential,” he added.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, Additional Research Director of Centre for Policy Dialogue said, tanners have sufficient unused rawhide of last year, on the other hand, this year the country has also sufficient rawhide. There are fewer opportunities to use these huge numbers of rawhides inside the country.
“As we saw, seasonal traders buried rawhides, left them abandoned, but no one there to collect such items indicates that there is sufficient storage of rawhide in the country. So we can say the government has taken the time-bound decision to export rawhide,” he added.
The leather sector businessmen demanded that the prices of rawhide of the sacrificial animals be lowered by 40 per cent from that of last year on the excuse of ‘slow demand’ in the world market. However, this year’s prices of hide and skin were not lowered, they were the same as last year’s which were at a seven-year low.
This year, Eid-ul-Adha witnessed an unprecedented price disorder in the procurement of rawhides of the sacrificial animals in the history of the country allegedly due to the backhanding of a syndicate.
Mentionable, half the cattle slaughtered in Bangladesh throughout the year are sacrificed during Eid. Muslims have slaughtered around 125 million cattle this Eid, according to a government estimate.
The unprecedented low price made tens of thousands of people across the country suffer while many even took the drastic decision to bury the rawhide after they failed to get minimum prices for them.