Vol. 5 Num 437 Thu. August 18, 2005  
Front Page

Business another casualty of blasts

He flew in to Dhaka all the way from the USA a couple of days ago and was scheduled to visit a garment factory in Chittagong last evening. But instead he caught the next flight to the USA. The series of bomb blasts that literally exploded all over Bangladesh yesterday morning frightened the prospective buyer away.

That's how MA Salam, first vice president of Bangladesh Garments Manufacturer and Exporters Association (BGMEA), described his own experience about the possible fallout of yesterday's bomb blast incidents over the country's garments industry, which earns about 80 percent of our total foreign exchange income.

It's not just the business community, but also the economists, bankers, capital market actors who have expressed deep worry over the incident and have requested the government to tackle the immediate crisis and concentrate on confidence building measures in the outside world.

MA Salam told the Daily Star that he managed to bring an American buyer after three months' correspondence. He came to Dhaka on Tuesday and was scheduled to fly to Chittagong to visit his garment factory. But at 2 pm the buyer phoned Salam and told him that he was no more interested to visit his factory and would catch the first available flight to USA. "That's how my three months' endeavour went in vain," he regretted.

Another BGMEA Vice president, Anwar Alam Chowdhury Parvez, said Bangladesh started to receive orders over the last two months from both the USA and the European countries following steps to restrict China's growth in this sector. But this incident will have a serious impact over the possible re-growth of the garment industry, he said.

"So far we have trying to make them realise that Bangladesh is a moderate Muslim country, but after this series of bomb blasts that ripped through the country at the same time, how can we now make them believe that there is no fundamentalist elements in the country. The nature of the bomb explosions apparently shows that these so-called fundamentalist groups has a nation wide network," Chowdhury explained.

FBCCI President Abdul Awal Mintoo said, "The government has been claiming that there is no fundamentalist terrorists in the country and we also have believed the government claim. But today's incidents have shown that they not only exist - they exist very strongly," he reacted.

He urged the government to investigate into the bomb blast incidents and to make their findings public, he demanded. "If the government still fails to act and tackle the situation our economy will be in a great fiasco," he feared.

Research director of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) Dr Zaid Bakht, said "The government so far has been claiming that there is no fundamentalists in the country and even if there is any like Bangla bhai or someone else they are very much under the government's control. But the way bombs exploded all over the country at a certain period of time clearly shows they have got a very organised and strong network."

"Bangladesh has already had an image problem in the international arena. This incident will further dent the country's image overseas. The incident will have a long-term and far reaching effect in every sector of our economy, including foreign investment, exports, and remittances. The government must wake up and catch the culprits," he said.

Managing Director of Pubali Bank, Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled, observed that, from what he has heard so far, it seems the spate of bomb explosions was meant to create panic among the general people in a very pre-planned way. "They clearly have a strong network across the country. The foreign buyers will certainly feel frightened by these events and our exports will suffer greatly,' he feared.

The Dhaka Stock Exchange's Chief Executive, Salahuddin Ahmed Khan, said bomb blasts saw a sharp fall in share prices around noon, but things settled down after a while. The government must do the needful so that the public has a sense of security.

Following the bomb explosions all over the country, share prices began to fall drastically in both the Dhaka and Chittagong share markets. Prices of each share fell by Tk 20 to 25. However, sanity soon returned in the share market.

BGMEA, in a press release, expressed great worry over the incidents and asked the government to identify the masterminds behind these acts of terrorism so that such incidents do not occur again in the future. Mentioning the extremely bad impact the incidents will have on the garment industry, the press release said foreign buyers have already started to make queries about the happenings.

The Bangladesh Chamber of Industries, in a meeting titled, "Exchange of views on trade and Economy" said the leading businessmen said it will be difficult to find buyers for Bangladeshi products and that orders will go to neighbouring countries.