Frozen food exporters demand easy loans
Frozen foods exporters yesterday demanded loans from “adjustable block accounts” so that they can overcome the sectoral liquidity crisis in the wake of ongoing global financial recession.
The demand was raised by the leaders of Bangladesh Frozen Foods Exporters Association (BFFEA) during a meeting with Commerce Minister Faruk Khan at his Secretariat office.
They also made an appeal to the government for lobbying with European countries to lift different barriers on frozen foods exports from Bangladesh.
The meeting was told that recently such food prices marked a 50 percent drop in the international market because of the financial meltdown.
The other demands the BFFEA placed before the minister include setting up at least four laboratory testing machinery --- two in Chittagong and two in Khulna --- for conducting tests of the export-oriented shrimps, and enhancing cash subsidy to 20 percent from the existing 10 percent.
Kazi Belayet Hossain, the BFFEA president, said Bangladesh exported frozen foods worth US$534 million in the 2007-08 fiscal year, although the target was set at $600 million.
Hossain identified some reasons for this non-fulfilment of the target for the last fiscal, which include global price-drop, absence of infrastructure facilities and investments and the cancellation of exporters' licences for negligible reasons.
“However, the growth in frozen foods exports maintained five percent higher than the target in July-December period of the current fiscal year,” the BFFEA chief said, pointing to the price-drop because of the fall in demand for a luxurious food like shrimp in the world market.
Of the 140 companies, only 78 have licenses and 40 now export the item, according to the trade body in the sector.
Hossain also pointed to the fact that the frozen foods processing factories are now producing 50,000 tonnes a year against the total capacity of 300,000 tonnes.
The commerce minister asked the exporters to submit a vision policy so that he can submit it to the head of the government to address all the problems the sector faces.
Faruk Khan advised them to set up hotels in foreign lands to obtain the real prices of such food items. He said in foreign hotels one-dollar shrimp is selling at $20 a piece.