The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) has called upon the government to postpone the decision on closure of shops, shopping malls and kitchen markets after 8:00pm, until the upcoming Eid-ul- Adha.
The apex trade body made the call during its Standing Committee Meeting on Local Garments (Avhantarin Poshak) held at FBCCI on Saturday afternoon.
During the meeting, the businessmen said that they had to incur a huge financial loss during the last two Eid seasons due to the onslaught of Coronavirus pandemic.
They said that the businessmen of the country were working relentlessly to boost the country's economy, with the help of the government's incentive packages.
If the business entities like shopping malls, markets and kitchen markets are kept shut after 8:00pm, the businessmen's ongoing efforts to turn the wheels of the country's economy will hamper, they said.
While addressing the meeting, FBCCI Senior Vice-President Mostofa Azad Chowdhury Babu called upon the government to suspend the decision.
"The office goers prefer to visit malls in the evening; therefore, the instruction will discourage them to shop, putting millions of small and medium entrepreneurs into further loss," he said.
Trading usually gets momentum in the evening, he said.
Mr Babu said that traders and customers as a whole would suffer if the shopping malls, markets, shops and kitchen markets were closed after 8:00pm.
Speaking on the occasion, Standing Committee Chairman and President of the Bangladesh Avhantarin Poshak Prostutkarak Malik Samity Md Alauddin Manik said that they met the huge domestic demand, thus helping reduce the import cost.
The sector will further flourish if it gets bank loans, he added.
Meanwhile, Director-in-Charge of the Committee Abu Motaleb complained that the tax officials harassed businessmen in the name of collecting revenue.
FBCCI Directors Shafiqul Islam Vorosha and Hafez Harun, the Standing Committee's Co-chairman MH Mostofa, among others, were present at the meeting.
In a new development, the Ministry of Labour and Employment has called an emergency meeting today (Sunday) with the stakeholders.
State Minister for Labour Monnujan Sufian will discuss the issue with the leaders of Dhaka city corporations (North and South), Bangladesh Employers Federation, FBCCI, Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Shop Owners Association, and Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The government is considering mandatory closure of all shops, shopping malls and kitchen markets across the country after 8:00pm, in order to conserve power and energy against the backdrop of soaring energy prices globally.
The Prime Ministers' Office on Thursday instructed the Ministry of Labour and Employment to take necessary steps to implement the new austerity measure under Section 114 of the Bangladesh Labour Law 2006, said a senior Petrobangla official.
However, the ministry is yet to take any step in this regard.
Officials said the government had earlier imposed a daily four-hour gas rationing for industrial clients for 10 days in April to cope with the mounting demand of natural gas.
Petrobangla and its subsidiary gas companies had restricted natural gas consumption from 5:00pm to 9:00pm daily for industries during the rationing.
Although the initial decision was to continue gas rationing for 15 days, the government backed down and withdrew it after 10 days due to protests from businesses and an increase in the country's overall natural gas output.
An abrupt fall in gas supply from the country's largest producing Bibiyana gas field, operated by US's Chevron Bangladesh, prompted the government to impose the gas rationing measure.
US oil and gas major Chevron had shut six producing gas wells on April 3 due to a technical fault.
Supply from Bibiyana had then dropped as low as around 800 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) from 1,275 mmcfd, mounting consumers' sufferings with low gas pressure and power outage.
Chevron Bangladesh could resolve the technical glitch and resumed natural gas production from the damaged wells in late April.
A six-hour gas rationing for compressed natural gas (CNG) filling stations from 5:00pm to 11:00pm daily is, however, still in execution under an austerity measure to conserve power and energy.