Political strife takes toll on Ctg business
BSM Group, a leading commodity importer based in Chittagong, counted Tk 200 crore in average sales a month in the 11 months to December last year, but ongoing political unrest has caused the company's sales to drop by a half in January.
The firm that mainly imports wheat, lentils, yellow peas and chick peas recorded sales of Tk 60 crore in the first seven days of January, when business was unaffected. But it recorded sales worth only Tk 40 crore in the rest of the month as the nonstop blockade and shutdowns badly affected business activities.
In addition to a direct hit from a drastic fall in sales, the firm will have to bear losses for a fall in prices, high bank interest and other additional expenses, BSM Group Chairman Abul Bashar Chowdhury said.
More than 2,000 big, medium and small firms that wholesale mainly commodities in the port city's business hub of Khatunganj share a similar fate.
The usual buzz of the area is gone, due to disruptions in the transportation and poor business transactions.
Payel Traders, a wholesaler based in Khatunganj, that buys lentils, yellow peas and chick peas from BSM Group and sells at wholesale markets in different districts, is also experiencing poor sales.
Payel's sales of goods plummeted to about 24 tonnes a day, compared to 150 tonnes in the first week of January, said Ashutosh Chowdhury, proprietor of the company.
Traders are not taking any risk as attacks on goods vehicles are rife on the highways, he said. “Transportation costs have also doubled,” he added.
“I am sitting idle as there was no business in the last three days.” Traders at the hub said sales dropped by 30 to 50 percent due to the political unrest.
Tariq Ahmed, director (operation) of TK Group, a large commodity importer, said their sales dropped 40 percent last month from December.
Syed Sagir Ahmad, general secretary of Khatunganj Trade and Industries Association, said the value of transactions on a normal day at the wholesale hub varies from Tk 1,200 crore to Tk 1,500 crore but it now came down to about Tk 500 crore.
Traders are now worried about payment of huge bank loans as a major portion of trade here takes place on credit, said Ahmad.