The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Sheikh Fazle Fahim has hoped to solve the outstanding payment dispute between rawhide merchants and tannery owners soon.
"To get a complete list of debtors from the rawhide merchants, we will sit with three concerned parties – Bangladesh Hides and Skin Merchant Association (BHSMA), Bangladesh Tanners Association (BTA) and Bangladesh Finished Leather and Leathergoods and Footwear Exporters' Association (BFLLFEA) – next Saturday. Two more meetings will be held on August 29 and 31," said the FBCCI president at a press conference on Thursday, at the Federation Bhaban in the capital.
Sheikh addressed the press conference after a two-hour-long closed-door meeting with officials of the BHSMA, BTA, and BFLLFEA on Thursday.
"Since 1990, tannery owners owe payments to rawhide merchants and we would like to settle this long-standing issue through discussions with all the three parties," said Sheikh.
In separate letters submitted to the FBCCI, earlier, rawhide merchants of ten districts claimed the tannery owners owe around Tk 84 crore to them.
The ten districts include Chattogram, Sylhet, Sherpur, Narsingdi, Tangail, Naogaon, and Bogra. The Business Standard has obtained a summerised copy of the letters.
"During our first meeting, we all agreed to assess the dues in 3 phases – 1990 to 2010, 2010 to 2015 and 2015 to 2019.", he added.
The BHSMA President Delwar Hossain said that they will wait till August 31 to settle for an acceptable solution. "But we demanded our dues from the very beginning of 1990."
Merchants had no other choice but dump a lot of rawhide during Eid-ul-Azha this year as they could not trust the tannery owners after they failed to pay the dues, claimed Delwar.
The BTA chairman Shain Ahmed said that most of the tannery owners did not receive financial support from scheduled banks as they had to pay their previous loans back.
Earlier on August 18, the government had directed the FBCCI to break the stalemate between tannery owners and rawhide wholesale traders, after a meeting organised by the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Industries.
The country's rawhide business is in disarray this year due to the fall of rawhide prices during Eid-ul-Azha. Thousands of rawhides were dumped – the highest in a decade – while a huge quantity of valuable rawhides rotted across the country.
Rawhide traders and tanners continue to blame each other for the damage done to rawhides.
On August 6, the government set prices of per square feet cow-hide and buffalo-hide at Tk45-50 in Dhaka and Tk35-40 elsewhere. The prices of goatskin and castrated goatskin across the country had been set at Tk18-20 and Tk13-15 per square feet respectively.