The novel coronavirus pandemic, coupled with a market recession, has hit the Jashore BSCIC industrial zone below the belt. Production has dropped to less than half that of the last fiscal year and it is at its lowest amount in the last five fiscal years.
Entrepreneurs said production dipped because they could not sell their goods on the market and export orders declined too – forcing many industries to lay off workers.
In the fiscal year 2019-20, the industrial estate only sold products worth Tk167.41 crore and exported ones worth Tk7.79 crore – also the lowest amount in the last five fiscal years.
Traders said they are worried about the upcoming days as the authorities concerned have not stood beside them amid the present crisis.
Established at Jhumjhumpur in Jashore in 1962, the industrial city has 118 units, 115 of which are running at present.
Around 6,000 workers used to work in these factories until the novel coronavirus rampaged the sector, forcing them to lay off around 2,250 workers.
Entrepreneurs said although the government has benefited from Jashore BSCIC industrial city in many ways, the authorities have paid little attention to its development.
Akhtar Hossain, proprietor of Enayet Engineering, said, "Our production has decreased to less than half due to Covid-19. The market demand is also low. So, we are being compelled to sell products at lower prices in the competitive market."
Shyamal Das, owner of MU CEA Foods, said his export orders amid the pandemic have come down to only one-fourth of the usual number.
"We will be experiencing the recession throughout this year too. In this situation, BSCIC did not cooperate with us," he alleged.
Md Farooq Hossain, owner of Medina Metal, said his company manufactures rims for the wheels of rickshaws, vans and bicycles.
"However, the novel coronavirus has shuttered our business. Although many organisations laid off employees, we did not. Yet, no one stood by us in this adverse situation," he said.
Sheikh Mostafa Ali, general secretary of the Jashore BSCIC Industrial Estate Owners Association, said the novel coronavirus affected all BSCIC organisations and the smaller ones are cutting staff.
"Service charges on all industries have been quadrupled in the estate. Yet, service is rare here," he said.
Farida Yasmin, deputy general manager (acting) of the industrial estate, said entrepreneurs have reduced production slightly due to the market downturn amid the novel coronavirus – which is why last year's production decreased.
"However, we are providing logistics support to the traders here. We are also working with SMEs," she said.
Mizanur Rahman Khan, former president of the Jashore Chamber of Commerce, said Jashore BSCIC is a promising industrial zone. Even though all the institutions have been affected, they are not getting any financial support from the government.
Financial aid on easy terms would help many more industrial units flourish here along with increased production, he added.