Two leading fuel carrier associations have demanded the bank interest rate for their loans taken for capital investment from the existing 14-18%.
The Bangladesh Petroleum Tanker Owners Association (BPTOA) and the Bangladesh Oil Tanker Owners Association (BOTOA) have also demanded a longer period for the repayment of the loans taken to build and import oil-carrying ships.
The associations raised the demand at a commerce ministry meeting on 1 October.
Dr Md Jafar Uddin, secretary to the ministry, confirmed that the meeting had been held but could not provide any further details.
The BPTOA and the BOTOA work with three state-owned fuel marketing companies to maintain uninterrupted supply of diesel and furnace oil products to oil depots in different destinations across the country.
Both associations have around 200 members and 250 coastal and bay-crossing shallow ships on the waterways.
Before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the shipping companies used to have at least three trips per day, which has now dropped to one and sometimes zero, said BPTOA members.
During the meeting, leaders from both associations said some of the investors had already become defaulters for their inability to repay their loan instalments.
They said association members have a total loan of Tk4,094 crore.
They also said that their business was totally closed during the nation-wide general holidays, but had paid salaries to the staff.
Mahbub Uddin Ahmed, president of BOTOA, told The Business Standard they had raised the demand as the sector had been hit hard by the pandemic.
"Different sectors have claimed stimulus packages to recover from the slowdown. We also deserve support from the government if other businesses are entitled to it," he said.
"Currently, banks are taking 14-18% interest from us on loans taken for capital investment. We asked the authority to reduce the interest rate and set it at the bank rate under the stimulus package," he added.
Meanwhile, the associations also urged the government to allow them to repay loans over a longer time rather than the existing short period.