Election candidates' spending on campaigning posters is likely to create about Tk 100 crore of business for the paper and printing industries, which although a drop in the ocean for the Tk 7,200 crore market is being welcomed by printers and millers.
Paper millers estimate that up to 14,000 tonnes of paper would be required to print posters, ballot papers and other materials in the run up to the 11th general election scheduled for December 30.
“We are taking on the task of printing election posters with a festive heart,” said Shahid Serneabat, chairman of the Printing Industries Association of Bangladesh (PIAB).
Since a competitive election is expected this time owing to participation of two mega alliances, paper millers are assuming the demand for posters will be higher than in the previous election.
During the 2008 general election, the PIAB estimated that 6 crore pieces of posters were printed. For the upcoming election, a total of 10 crore to 15 crore pieces of posters is likely to be printed, Serneabat said.
“It appears that the candidates of the two alliances would get equal number of posters for campaigns,” he added.
Campaigns are expected to start after the last date of withdrawal of candidacy on December 9, according to an Election Commission notification. The demand comes at a time when printers are busy printing text books, calendars and diaries targeting the New Year.
Printers that produce text books will not make posters for election, Serneabat said, adding that the 2,000 printers who make calendars will do the election-centric work. “And there will no problem as our capacity has increased tremendously,” he added.
As many as 10,000 tonnes of paper might be required for posters to be printed by candidates to lure voters in their constituencies ahead of the polls, according to Md Mustafizur Rahman, deputy managing director of Bashundhara Group, one of the biggest paper millers in the country.
And about 4,000 tonnes of paper would be needed to print ballot papers and other documents by the Election Commission. “This is not a significant quantity from the perspective of the capacity of our sector,” Rahman added.
Bangladesh's mills have the capacity to produce 15 lakh tonnes of paper annually, which is almost double the annual demand for white paper.
Local millers produce 6 lakh tonnes of paper and about 3 lakh tonnes are imported by the export-oriented factories duty-free under the bonded warehouse privilege.
Half of the imported papers are alleged to go to the domestic market illegally through leakages in bonded warehouses, said industry operators. A senior official of Meghna Pulp & Paper Mills Ltd, a concern of Meghna Group of Industries, said there will be no shortage of paper this year.
As many as 68,000 posters with a size of 18 inches x 23 inches each can be made from one tonne of papers.
So, it appears not more than 8,000 tonnes of paper might be needed for printing posters and other campaign materials by candidates and ballots, he added. The prices of printing paper are very high, averaging Tk 95,000 per tonne, according to Serneabat. “Based on the demand projection and prices, it is likely that election will generate about Tk 100 crore worth of demand for paper and printing.”