Steel, cement output falls by a third for multiple challenges

Say manufacturers

The output at the country's steel and cement factories has fallen almost by a third due to the power and gas crisis, a hike in raw material prices in the global market, and the US dollar shortage, manufacturers said yesterday. 

The lower production has made it difficult for them to pay back bank loans, a situation that may turn them defaulters, they warned.

So, manufacturers called on the government to come up with support to sustain the steel, rod, and cement industries. Otherwise, it would be difficult for them to survive, they said in a press release of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).

The call came at a meeting of the standing committee of the FBCCI on iron, carbon steel, stainless steel, and re-rolling industries at the office of the federation in the capital.

Speaking at the meeting, FBCCI President Md Jashim Uddin said it was very important for the steel and cement sectors to make a turnaround to maintain the country's development journey..

The taka has lost its value by about 25 per cent against the American greenback in the past one year

He called for guaranteeing uninterrupted gas and power supply for steel and cement factories as well as giving priority to them when it comes to opening letters of credit for the import of raw materials.

Manwar Hossain, chairman of the Bangladesh Steel Manufacturers Association, sought support to ride out the ongoing LC opening crisis.

FBCCI Vice-President M A Momen said there was no doubt that the steel sector was in crisis. "A national discussion should be taken place for the development of the sector."

Md Jamal Uddin, a director of the FBCCI, said the price of rods and cement has gone up by about 50 per cent. As a result, all stakeholders are being hurt. "So, it is important to bring down the price of construction materials."

SM Jahangir Alam, another director of the apex trade body, said the price of construction materials surged globally owing to the sharp appreciation of the US dollar against the taka.

The local currency has lost its value by about 25 per cent in the past one year against the American greenback owing to US dollar shortages, which were caused by higher import bills.  

"Besides, the overhead cost has increased for the gas and electricity shortage," Alam said.

He urged the government to bring down the import duty on raw materials to 5 per cent.