RMG exporters oppose hike in carton handling charge | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 03, 2013 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, January 03, 2013

RMG exporters oppose hike in carton handling charge

Garment makers yesterday urged Bangladesh Inland Container Depot Association (BICDA) to reverse its decision to hike labour charges by about 88 percent in handling export cartons.
BICDA increased the charge to Tk 3 from Tk 1.6 a carton, effective from January 1, without any discussion with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, said Nasir Uddin Chowdhury, first vice president of BGMEA.
“We have sent letters to the president of BICDA to resolve the issue through discussion,” Chowdhury said in a press briefing organised by BGMEA's Chittagong unit in the port city.
A meeting with BICDA was also scheduled for December 30 at the head office of BGMEA in Dhaka, which was postponed as the BICDA leaders were absent, he said.
The fee hike came as a double blow to exporters as the global recession is already taking a toll on the readymade garment sector, he said.
Moreover, spiralling production costs due to increasing charges of electricity, transport, bank interest, tax at source and wages are piling pressure on the sector, Chowdhury said.
BICDA's illogical and unilateral decision of increasing the labour charge came as a big shock to the entrepreneurs, he said. “The sector will not survive if the exporters have to pay this charge.”
The labour cost of handling a carton should not be more than Tk 0.20 in Bangladesh, he said.
BICDA should have discussed with all stakeholders before increasing the charges, said Morshed Murad Ibrahim, president of Chittagong Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
“When the country is progressing towards a middle-income group, such a hike without any consultation with exporters will hamper the export sector,” Ibrahim said.
Ruhul Amin Sikder, secretary of BICDA, has an explanation. The rate was reduced to Tk 1.6 from Tk 2 on July 16, 2007 due to the global economic crisis, according to a memorandum of understanding signed between BICDA and BGMEA, he said.
The charge was supposed to be revised up in January 2008, he said.
"And from Tk 2 to Tk 3, the increase is only 50 percent."
It is completely in sync with the average labour charge that increased by 80 percent to 105 percent in the last five years, he said.
As per the international shipping law, inland container depots cannot charge a single penny on exporters; they should take the fees from freight forwarders instead, said Mahbub Chowdhury, vice-president of Chittagong Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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