Steel Building Manufacturers Association (SBMA) of Bangladesh today demanded withdrawing the existing facilities of importing duty-free ‘steel building finish goods’ here by foreign companies as a safeguard to protect the local manufacturers.
The body also urged to reduce custom duties on import of pre-fabricated raw materials of steel building products in the revised national budget for 2020-21.
SMBA raised the demands at a post-budget press briefing, addressed by its president Jowher Rizvi and general secretary Md Rashed Khan, at its office in the capital.
In a written statement, Khan said the government provides duty-free import facilities on steel finished products to some foreign companies for their establishment in BEZA, power plans and LNG units despite of local steel building manufactures’ ability of producing international standard products in their factories here with all modern equipment.
He said some foreign companies have been importing surplus finish steel goods exploiting the government’s duty-free import facilities and supplying those products to the open market that put the local steel manufacturers into an unfair competition.
“The existence of local steel manufacturers will be in dire consequences, if this situation prevails long. So, we urge the government to withdraw duty-free import facilities on finished steel products rather allow us to import steel raw materials with zero duty for our further flourishment,” he said.
SBMA general secretary further pointed out that the commercial importers pay 5 percent as custom duty (CD) in importing steel goods whereas local steel manufactures are paying 25 percent as CD while importing their raw materials.
“The custom duty should be less for the manufacturers than the commercial importers in the greater interest of the country’s industrialization,” he observed.
Wiping off above mentioned discriminatory system, they demanded to reduce the custom duties on imported raw materials for the steel building products.
Mentioning that the local steel manufacturer companies have the capabilities to fulfil entire steel demand of Bangladesh market, Rizvi urged the government allowing the SBMA members to participate in the government’s tenders.
The SMBA president said the raw materials of the pre-fabricated steel building industry has suffered a significant financial loss due to the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic as 95 percent of the industrial raw materials are imported from China.
Mentioning that, from December to till this month, about 30 pre-fabricated steel building industry under SBMA and about 200 others outside the association will be at a loss of about Tk10,000 crore, he urged to make fast disbursement of fund declared by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the stimulus package to recover the shattered economy wreaked by the pandemic.
Terming the pre-fabricated steel building industry as the “industry of art”, other leaders of the association said if the pre-fabricated steel building industry is saved, all industries in the country will be saved.
In recent years, pre-fabricated steel buildings have become popular as these establishments are affordable, earthquake tolerant and good for the entrepreneurs as it helps maintain global compliance standard at low cost.
About 2 lakh people are directly and another 8 lakh are indirectly associated with the industry while more than 1 lakh workers and employees are feared to lose their jobs due to the pandemic.