Ceramics makers yesterday demanded an increase in the tariff on imported tiles and withdrawal of the local supplementary duty on tiles and sanitary products to protect the domestic industry.
There has been a 15 per cent supplementary duty on tiles and 10 per cent on sanitary items for the last several years. The budget for the next fiscal year has kept the duties unchanged.
Finance Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has also proposed to cut the tariff on imported tiles by $1 per square metre, which will bring down the price of foreign items by Tk 12 per square foot.
The government reduced the import tariff by the same margin in the outgoing fiscal year.
As a result, the price of the imported tiles will decline by Tk 24 per square foot, which is lower than the rates of those of locally produced items, said Md Shirajul Islam Mollah, president of the Bangladesh Ceramic Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BCMEA).
"This is a threat to the local industry," he told reporters while addressing a media briefing on the proposed budget at the National Press Club in Dhaka.
The association demanded the withdrawal of all supplementary duties on tiles and sanitary products and an increase in the import duty on the imported tiles.
"We manufacture world-class ceramic products. We also export them after catering the local market. Because of the supplementary duty, the price of our products has gone up," Mollah said.
"As a result, the price of the imported items is lower than the local items."
Local manufacturers meet 80 per cent of the domestic demand for ceramics products, and the rest of the demand is met through imports.
The demand has been growing at 20 per cent annually on average for the last few years.
Around Tk 6,560 crore worth of ceramic products were sold in Bangladesh in the fiscal year of 2019-20. In the same fiscal year, local ceramic makers exported products worth $50.32 million, down from $68.97 million a year ago.
BCMEA Senior Vice-President Moynul Islam, General Secretary Irfan Uddin, and directors Rasheed Mymunul Islam and Ruslan Nasir were also present at the media briefing.