The local dairy industry has been left disappointed as the government did not raise the duty on imported powdered milk in the proposed budget for 2019-20, which may fuel uneven competition in the sector, the National Dairy Development Forum (NDDF) said yesterday.
“If the duty on the imported powdered milk is not increased, the dairy industry will soon be ruined,” according to a statement of the forum.
The forum expressed its concern at a press conference in Dhaka on Wednesday.
It demanded that the government impose 25 percent import duty on milk and milk products in the proposed budget.
According to the statement, the dairy industry is a potential sector in Bangladesh to empower women and create jobs for the educated unemployed. The sector has also transformed into a commercially successful industry.
There are more than one lakh registered dairy farmers in Bangladesh and almost half of them are educated youth.
In the last one decade, milk production has surged by more than three times and meat production has gone up by seven times. Local entrepreneurs meet two-thirds of the demand of the total milk consumption.
The uneven duty will hit the sector hard and will have far-reaching impact on hundreds of thousands of people, who are directly and indirectly involved with the sector, the forum said.
While unveiling the forum’s nine-point demand, Mohammad Anisur Rahman, general secretary of the NDDF, said the budget has proposed to exempt four milk products from payment of value-added tax at import stage.
Rahman recommended imposing 15 percent VAT on them.
The VAT on local supply should be brought down to zero by considering locally produced powdered milk as an essential item, he said.
“All import duties on the raw materials used in animal feed should be withdrawn.”
The government should also evaluate whether it can impose any anti-dumping duty on the imported powdered milk taking into account the subsidies extended by exporting nations, the forum said.
Umme Kulshum Smrity, president of the forum, and SM Monjur Rashid, manager for policy, advocacy, campaign and communication at Oxfam Bangla-desh, also spoke.