The steel sector in Bangladesh has incurred approximately Tk 30 billion losses in March-April this year due to a drastic fall in demand and halt in steel production for coronavirus pandemic.
Bangladesh Steel Manufacturers Association (BSMA) Chairman Manwar Hossain said this at an online press conference in the capital on Monday.
The association also sought Tk 30 billion as loan from the government's COVID-19 stimulus package for steel manufacturers to help them continue their business and pay wages for 0.3 million people employed in this sector. The BSMA leaders cautioned that the sector may suffer a total of Tk 150 billion loss in 2020 if steps are not taken by the government immediately to give them the financial support.
Senior Vice President of the association Zahirul Haque Chowdhury, Secretary General Md Shahidullah and Vice President Suman Chowdhury were also present at the programme.
Steel companies also demanded of the government to impose an additional 15 per cent supplementary duty on import of MS Rod (mild steel rod) in order to save the local industry.
The online media conference was also organised to exchange views, state the tough time the steel manufacturing companies are now facing and review VAT/tax issues ahead of the national budget.
"The sector has incurred approximately Tk 30 billion in losses in March and April due to the fall in demand and halt in production," said Manwar Hossain.
Terming steel industry a volumetric sector he said "We sell more but gain less profits in this sector."
He said imports of key raw material meltable scraps have almost been stopped, forcing them to shut production.
The sector's 0.3 million people are going through a tough time, said Mr Hossain, also group managing director of Anwar Group of Industries.
Many companies would not be able to pay their staff in coming months if the current stalemate continues, he further said.
He sought Tk 30 billion as loan from the government's stimulus package, announced for keeping the country's economy alive during the pandemic.
He also sought loan from the banks for paying salaries of office staff of the steel industries for four months.
The BSMA demanded to fix Tk 500 a tonne for importing meltable scraps instead of Tk 1,500.
It also sought imposition of additional 15 per cent SD on importing MS Rod to prevent dumping of the product across the globe.
The association also demanded for removal of the 5.0 per cent advance tax on importing all kinds of raw materials.
The BSMA leaders urged to scrap penal interests of bank loans for the next one year.
According to a BSMA data, the market size of the sector is about Tk 500 billion which employs 0.3 million people.
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