Mahbubul Alam, president of the Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), said that if the supply chain between Chattogram Port and the other parts of the counrty is interrupted, the whole nation has to bear the cost as the prices of all products will increase.
Businesses will face losses which will leave many jobless, he added.
While talking to The Business Standard on Monday the business leader said, "We have made six demands to the government to keep the country's business sector and supply chain uninterrupted in the present coronavirus outbreak."
He said that the Chattogram port is grappling with container congestion while the capacity of the Dhaka Inland Container Depot's (ICD) has exceeded. Businessmen cannot take delivery of their goods due to the lack goods carrier vehicles such as trucks, covered vans and lorries.
The first demand is that the government should talk to truck owners about providing more service during this holiday period. He added that drivers of trucks and lorries carry the goods across the country, so the administration should ensure their safety and security while they are doing their job.
Otherwise, the supply of products, including essential commodities, will fall short. There are 19 ICDs in the country. But these ICDs are also facing the same problem as there is a shortage of trucks, lorries and labourers.
Secondly, all the wholesale markets across the country should be kept open for smooth trading and supply of goods.
Thirdly, the Bangladesh Bank should keep their Bangladesh Automated Clearing House (BACH), a platform that is used to clear interbank cheques, open. It has been closed following the countrywide lockdown and general holidays. BACH should remain open as business transactions are done through banks.
Fourthly, NBR should allow the release all goods, not just essential commodities, emergency medicine and service-related material. Otherwise the ports will run out of storage capacity, there will be container congestion, and there will be a shortage of goods in the market. Moreover, businessmen have to pay various demurrage charges including port charges and shipping agents' charges for overstay. Such demurrage at the end will increase the prices of goods.
Fifth, due to the countrywide shutdown, businessmen cannot receive and deliver goods from the port because of the shortage of goods carrier vehicles. Furthermore, the NBR has limited the type of items that can be released from the port. So, our demand is to exempt all demurrage at Chattogram port, ICDs and shipping agents.
Sixth, almost all private factories have been closed following the government's declaration of general holidays. Since they are not in production, the government should give factories the opportunity to pay all utility bills after three months without any late fees, as they are allowing home users to do.