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Business community stage sit-in, urge leaders to resolve pre-poll political impasse

peace-plsThe business community of the country staged Sunday (15 December 2013 )a sit-in programme in protest against the ongoing political mayhem. They called upon both the opposition and ruling parties to create a congenial atmosphere by holding dialogue as early as possible.

The business leaders urged the ruling party to stop the ongoing election process and ensure peace to overcome the stalemate.

The business community has threatened a tougher action if the situation has not been made to improve.

The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) organised the protest programme  in front of the Federation building at Motijheel, in which the FBCCI previous presidents, the FBCCI board members, leaders of different business associations and chambers participated.

Beginning at around 11:30am, the sit-in continued for 45 minutes as it protested the persisting political stand-off, which is centred round the coming 10th parliamentary election.

Carrying white flags, thousands of businesspersons from the garment and different other sectors took part in the sit-in rally under the banner of FBCCI. They chanted slogans against the deadlock, which was hurting businesses across the country. Responding to the FBCCI call, about 5 million business-people held sit-in rallies with white flags in their hands in other parts of the country, besides the capital.

“We want peace, and a political solution to this prevailing crisis. We want business-friendly environment in the country,” said Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, president of FBCCI, in Dhaka.

If the political impasse is not resolved, the businesspersons will not be able to pay salaries to the workers, and interest to banks from the next month, the business leaders said.

“This large gathering of business-people gives the political forces the message that if they are not able to resolve the problem, we will go for tougher programmes,” Akram Uddin Ahmed said.

He demanded that the government immediately release FBCCI former president Abdul Awal Mintu, who was recently arrested for political reasons.

Former FBCCI president Salman F Rahman called upon the business community to come out on the streets if the political forces failed to restore normalcy.

He said if the political parties failed to perform their duties, then they should hand over the responsibility to the business community.

Former FBCCI president Mir Nasir Hossain urged the ruling Awami League and opposition BNP leaders to resolve the problem by holding dialogue between them.

“The problem-solving magic is in your hands,” he said adding: “If you fail to resolve the problem then please stop the ‘election train’.

He said, “We will not be able to pay salaries to the workers and will not be able to pay bank interest from next month if the factories remain closed.”

Former president of the apex trade body AK Azad said the responsibility to improve the situation lied with the government.  “If the problem is not solved immediately, we will hold sit-in in front of the residences of the Prime Minister and the opposition leaders.”

Former FBCCI president Annisul Haque said those who were supposed to protect the economy of the country were now destroying it.

The political leaders have resorted to the politics of burning people, he said.

“They are holding 160 million people hostage. We want to see an end to this situation,” Mr Haque added.

Demanding healthy politics in the country, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) president Atiqul Islam said the backbone of the apparel sector has broken down due to what he termed ‘sick politics’.

Our Narayanganj Correspondent adds: Narayanganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry Sunday arranged a white-flag human chain, as part of the programme of FBCCI, at Chashara in the city.

Forty business organisations, of them eight national and thirty-two local business organisations, businessmen, officials and workers were present at the white flag-waving human chain.

Manjurul Haque, senior vice president of Narayanganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI), presided over the human chain. Among others, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Assiciation (BKMEA) and NCCI president Selim Osman, Bangladesh Hosiery Association president Hazi Shahjalal, president of Salt Mill Malik Association Poritos Kanti Shaha, president of Narayanganj Sugar and Oil Merchant Association Sankar Chandra Saha, Foiz Uddin Ahmed Lavlu, Arif Dipu, Adv. Sultan Uddin Nannu, Shafiuddin Prodhan, Adv. Mahabubur Rahman Ismail and Kawsar Ahmed Polash addressed the human chain programme.

The speakers said they wanted peace and sought to run business smoothly. “We have been counting losses for around six months as a result of the ongoing unrest. Continuing business has now become impossible,” said a businessman.

The speakers narrated their plight and said they were in an enigma as to how they would pay their workers’ salary if hartals and blockades continued.

Our Chittagong Correspondent adds: Traders, industrialists, shoppers and manufacturers in Chittagong Sunday organised a human chain with white flags to protest the anarchic activities leading to destruction of economic infrastructure throughout the country during the recent political programmes called by the opposition

Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) organised the demonstration in front of its office-building from 11.30am to 12.00 noon. Several hundred representatives of different organisations from across the port city and adjoining areas participated in the demonstration.

BGMEA, BKMEA, BGAPMEA, BARVIDA, Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association, Shop Owners Association, Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Jubilee Road Merchants Association, Bipani Bitan Malik Samity, Chittagong Port Truck Owners Association, Terribazar Businessmen’s Association, Southland Centre Shop Owners Association, Poultry Breeders Association of Bangladesh, Tea Traders Association, Prime Mover Owners Association, Freight Forwarders Association, C&F Agents Association, Inter-district Truck and Covered Van Owners Association, Road Transport Association, Small Shoe Industries Association, Decorator Owners Association, Bangladesh Restaurant Owners Association, Mimi Super Market Shop Owners Association and Jewelers Association participated in the programme.

In his address CCCI president Mahbubul Alam said 25,000-30,000 containers with import cargoes have remained stranded in the port yards for weeks due to the political mayhem let loose by rowdy elements during the road, rail and river route blockades.

The fare of a covered van to transport cargo between Dhaka and Chittagong has gone up to Tk 0.1 million now from Tk 12,000 to Tk 15,000 a trip weeks ago. Transportation of all essential commodities and raw materials of factories remains stuck leading to severe production crisis, halt to operational activities in industrial plants, dislocation in export and import, loss of export proceeds worth millions of US dollars and cancellation of export orders for failure in timely shipments, he said.

CCCI vice president Syed Jamal Ahmed has called upon all concerned to keep essential commodities, milk, export goods, Chittagong Seaport, Dhaka-Chittagong Highway and train communication out of the purview of hartals and blockades.

CCCI directors Mazharul Islam Chowdhury, Mahfuzul Haque Shah, MA Motaleb, Zahirul Islam Chowdhury, Kamal Mostafa Chowdhury, Ohid Siraj Chowdhury, Zahirul Alam, Sirajul Islam, FBCCI director MA Salam, BGMEA acting first vice president Abdul Wahab, former first vice president Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, DMCCI vice president Anis A Khan, Bangladesh International Hotel Association president AHM Hakim Ali, Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association secretary Syed Sagir Ahmed, BKMEA leader Shawkat Osman, Women Chamber vice president Ivy Hasan, Md Sagir, Kazi Mahmud Imam Bilu and Manjurul Alam Manju, among others, were present.

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