The ban on cattle export by India proved to be a blessing in disguise. It brought opportunity to local farmers to raise more cattle and fatten them for Eid market. Despite speculation of a big crisis, local farmers were able to keep the supply steady and make handsome profit.
At the end the market did not feel the crunch, it did fairly well and buyers were also happy to find the sacrificial cattle within affordable price. What is more noticeable is that the occasion opened the confidence that Bangladesh can be able to supply its own market without Indian cattle.
India relaxed the ban at the end but the local market was already able to refocus its sourcing from local farmers who were however raising more cattle this year anticipating the crisis.
In fact preparations were afoot at least from early this year as soon as the Indian government made it known that they would restrict cattle export to at least double the prices of meat in local market.
Traders, farmers and hide merchants said a reduced inflow of cattle through illegal channels from India have helped local farmers to make good the supply shortfall which was always fulfilled by import from India.
The religious festival accounts for nearly half of the 80 lakh cattle slaughtered in Bangladesh a year, while illegal supplies from India meet up to 30 percent, according to traders and data from the National Board of Revenue.
However, the supply from India this year was lower than last year amid the Indian authority’s control over the entry of cows to Bangladesh, according to traders.
They said reduced inflow of cattle from India encouraged many people to fatten cows in the months leading up to Eid. This year, farmers fattened 30 lakh bulls for sale during Eid. In addition, nearly 12 lakh bulls reared by the farmers were also brought into the Eid markets, according to provisional estimates by Department of Livestock Services (DLS).
Farmers and traders said low prices of cattle a few days ago made many of them unhappy, but prices soared as Eid neared.
A cattle fattener from the northern district of Pabna said he brought 100 cattle to the market in the capital ahead of Eid. He sold all the animals at a margin. He said he was initially disappointed to sell some large bulls at lower than expected price.
But he was later able to sell the rest in line at his targeted price in the last few days ahead of Eid when some scarcity flashed out in the market.
It was a good year for cattle breeders, said a cattle fattener from Satkhira. He said keeping Indian cattle away from market will help local farmers to raise more cattle and it would pave the way to local self-sufficiency. Large scale import must be stopped, he said.
He said local breeders become nervous when Indian cattle enter the market in
large number. Bangladesh must close the border; he said adding local breeders have the potentials to meet the country’s annual demand for meat and dairy products.
The government should restrict the entry of Indian cattle for the sake of development of the local dairy and beef sectors, he said.
What is important is to make easy availability of bank credit at low cost and animal husbandry facilities at farmers’ door steps. Cattle is highly vulnerable to various diseases and large scale death and such other sufferings of animal can destroy the farmers.
He said that the government should ensure all support to small and marginal farmers, it should encourage them to set up cattle farm or rear animal at household level.
DLS Director General Ajay Kumar Roy told the media last week that local cattle werte able to meet more than 90 percent of the demand during Eid festival this year. “Farmers received higher prices than in the previous years, while buyers were not uncomfortable with the prices either.
Both buyers and sellers were happy. “It is a good sign for livestock development that locally reared cattle can meet a large portion of our requirement,” he said
However, Bangladesh Hide and Skin Merchants’ Association functionaries fear that fewer numbers of cattle were slaughtered this year mainly because of a reduced supply of cattle from India.
In his estimate the shortage ran from 5 to 6 lakh as the lower number of hide indicate after the Eid festival. Even if it was the net shortage, experts believe that Bangladesh has the potentials to make good this shortage.
Bangladesh has moved two notches up in this year’s Global Competitiveness Index, riding on progress in the areas of macroeconomy, health, education and infrastructure.
The country was ranked 107th in 2015-16, from last year’s 109th, among 140 countries, according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) annual report on global competitiveness.
But corruption and political uncertainty remained as high hindering the growth and investment perspectives and a lot more need to be done to create the right environment for business and economic development to exploit the higher growth potentials.
The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) disclosed the ranking on behalf of the Geneva-based body in a press conference at Dhaka’s Brac Inn last week.
Bangladesh’s progress is primarily because of better performance in macroeconomic environment, health, education and infrastructure, said CPD officials told the media releasing the report.
The country scored 3.8 on a scale of 1 to 7, he said. Last year, the score was 3.7.
“This is not the kind of jump we expect,” they said. “We are walking whereas we need to run,” they said.
The economist said Bangladesh could not make major breakthrough in the ranking because of lack of desired reforms in financial, capital and labour markets.
“There are serious shortcomings in the areas of good governance and rules of law which are keys to boosting competitiveness. Besides, Bangladesh will have to give more importance to innovation in order to become a middle income country.”
CPD executive director Prof Mustafiz said the government has taken many steps to enhance the efficiency of the institutions. But it is not enough. We have to allow the Anti-Corruption Commission to work independently, he said.
The government has given financial incentives for the public administration. At the same time, reforms in the administration have to be sped up. Many infrastructure projects have been taken up. We have to ensure that they are implemented timely, he said.
CPD officials said many countries have leapfrogged in the ranking whereas Bangladesh has moved up a bit. For example, India moved up to 55th place from last year’s 71, whereas Sri Lanka was ranked 68th in 2015-16 from last year’s 73rd.
Both Nepal and Bhutan were ahead of Bangladesh as they were ranked at 100th and 105th respectively. Only one country in South Asia was ranked below Bangladesh: Pakistan was ranked at 126th, while the Maldives was not included in the ranking.
Bangladesh’s macroeconomic stability has improved to 49th from 72nd while improvement in infrastructure saw ranking moved up to 123 from 127 last year.
The WEF said Bangladesh’s weakness includes institutions, financial market sophistication and goods market efficiency.
Positive changes occurred in the areas of health and primary education, technological readiness and business sophistication. “Governance and institutions are still in weak state and are cause for growing concern for businesses in medium to long term,” they said
Switzerland and Singapore held onto the two top places in the rankings and the US stayed in third place.
On the basis of the questionnaire developed by the WEF, an executive opinion survey was conducted in Bangladesh between February and May this year while reference period was January to December of 2014.
The sample size was 56, with most of the companies locally-owned and mostly based in Dhaka. The CPD had sent the questionnaire to about 300 companies.
The WEF assesses the world’s economies in 114 indicators in 12 pillars: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.
The report issued a warning about the health of the global economy, saying “a ‘new normal’ of suppressed economic and productivity growth and persistently high unemployment is damaging resilience and leaving the world vulnerable to another protracted slump”.
It called on countries to “step up their efforts to re-accelerate economic growth”.
The WEF report was simultaneously launched in 140 countries. The CPD has been partnering with the WEF in preparing the report since 2001.
Reuters, Abu Dhabi
The United Arab Emirates, the Middle East business hub long dependent on guest workers from Asia, announced labour reforms on Tuesday to protect foreign workers, who rights groups say are often abused by employers and prevented from changing jobs within the country.
The trade, energy and investment powerhouse is one of several Gulf Arab states whose treatment of foreign workers has been criticized repeatedly by campaign groups demanding the repeal of what they consider oppressive labour laws.
Much of this concern is focused on a sponsorship system known as “kafala” that most Gulf states enforce on foreign workers. It not only regulates entry and residence, but also requires they seek permission from employers to change jobs.
Labour Minister Saqr Ghobash said that from January 2016 the UAE would take steps which, when completed, would get rid of “all the practices that were associated with kafala”. He outlined steps strengthening the right to change employer and preventing “involuntary labour” by lodging the workers’ contracts with the labour ministry rather than with the employers, who currently hold the documents.
“The worker cannot, under any circumstances, be made to, or otherwise be compelled, to remain in an employment relation,” a ministry statement said.
A reorganisation of labour contracts would also stop so-called “substitution”, where foreign workers sign one contract before they leave their home country and are compelled to renegotiate lower wages when they arrive in the Gulf.
Guest workers do many of the dirty and dangerous jobs in the region, from construction to the oil industry, transport and services. They account for nearly half of the roughly 50 million population of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council and about 4.5 million of the nine million UAE population.
Most blue-collar workers in Gulf Arab states are hired on contract from countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the Philippines, many of whom have come to the Middle East to escape poverty in their home country.
Typically employed on low wages, workers are usually housed in camps with basic facilities on the outskirts of cities.
In many Gulf Arab states, passports of guest workers are held by the sponsor for the duration of their contracts. Although this is banned in the UAE, the practice survives.
Asked if reforms on wider issues of labour abuse were in the pipeline, Ghobash replied there was no country that stopped improving its labour situation, but the process took time.
Nicholas McGeehan, UAE researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the move against contract substitution “is a huge improvement and something we would fully support and applaud” and it was “good to see” the UAE feeling the need to reform.
But he said many steps did not appear particularly new or ground-breaking, and rights groups wanted evidence of change.
Individual taxpayers are likely to get two more months to submit their returns for the current fiscal year, a senior official of the National Board of Revenue said.
The current deadline for returns submission ends today, but it may be extended to November 30.
The move comes as many found it difficult to gather tax-related documents on time due to the Hajj and holidays for Eid-ul-Azha, he said. The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry and other trade and professional bodies also urged the tax authority to extend time.
The NBR is yet to compile the total number of tax returns submitted so far this year, but the rate of submission is lower than last year’s, according to NBR officials.
During the income tax fair that ended last week, the revenue authority received 1.61 lakh returns and logged in Tk 2,035 crore in tax.
Last year, the NBR extended the deadline for submission of income and wealth statements.
BRAC Bank Limited and Lamudi Bangladesh signed an agreement to promote BRAC Bank’s “Home Loan” service on www.lamudi.com.bd, a global online real estate marketplace.
This collaboration between BRAC Bank and Lamudi will greatly simplify the hassle for customers to search for property and home loan separately. Through this agreement, visitors to Lamudi looking to buy property can enjoy the ease of contacting BRAC Bank for Home Loan directly from Lamudi website.
Mr. Firoz Ahmed Khan, Head of Retail Banking, BRAC Bank Limited, and Mr. Rajesh Grover, Managing Director & Co- Founder, Lamudi Bangladesh, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective organizations.