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Anti-smuggling drive pays dividend
Retail raw hides traders in trouble
Refayet Ullah Mirdha

          Retailers of raw hides and skin are in trouble as wholesale traders are reluctant to buy the hides of the sacrificial animals at 'higher' prices.
The retail and wholesale traders are expected to sit today (Saturday) to reach a consensus on the prices, sources said.
Retail traders bought the hides and skin as per the decision of the meeting that was held about a week ahead of the Eid festival.
The leaders of the Bangladesh Finished Leather, Leather Goods and Footwear Exporters Association (BLLGFEA) decided to buy cowhide at the rate of Tk 50 per square feet in Dhaka and at Tk 40 per square feet from outside Dhaka.
Price per square feet of goatskin was fixed at Tk 40 in Dhaka, traders said.
The retail traders said price of a medium size cowhide varied between Tk 1200 to Tk 1500 while a big size cowhide was priced between Tk 1800 and Tk 2000.
During Eid-ul-Azha this year, approximately 2.2 million cows and 10.20 million goats were slaughtered across the country, which is 10 per cent higher than those of the last year, according to unofficial estimate.
Over 4.50 billion takas were transacted during Eid days for purchasing raw hides and skin of sacrificial animals.
Traders are expecting to earn an additional amount of money by exporting leather and leather goods this year because of the strict measures taken in the border areas by the government to prevent smuggling of raw hides and skins out of the country.
"We have pointed out the smuggling spots in the border areas and urged the government to strictly guard those places," BFLLGFEA chairman Tipu Sultan told the FE.
Traders said the export of processed leather and leather goods this year is expected to fetch Tk 25.00 billion. Bangladesh earns Tk 18 billion per year by exporting leather and leather goods, said Tipu Sultan.
Leather traders are happy with the ongoing collection of hides and skin and preservation activities at Hazaribagh and Postogola tanneries.
So far, no vehicle carrying raw hides was reported leaving Dhaka, thanks to tough security measures. Besides, hide-laden trucks from other districts have begun to arrive. If this tight security steps are maintained for a few days more the export of leather and leather goods is sure to scale up. Leather traders said Bangladesh generally exports leather and leather goods to Italy, Japan and China.
India and Pakistan use their own chemicals for the preserving process, but Bangladesh uses European chemicals imported in Euros. But she earns US dollars by exporting leather and leather goods. The difference in the rates between the two currencies has compelled Bangladesh to increase the price of its leather and leather goods, putting it in a disadvantageous situation.
Meanwhile, the price of salt has suddenly increased abnormally after Eid-ul-Azha.
Meanwhile, BSS adds from Rangpur: Law enforcement agencies have been put on strong alert against the organised syndicates, who allegedly are out with their bid to smuggle out hide and skins of the sacrificial animals to India.
Market sources told BSS here Friday that the government had undertaken this step to stop possible smuggling of hides and skins, most of which are being taken towards the border belt in the region.
BDR officials in Dhaka said the border force took measures to prevent movement of the hide loaded trucks and vehicles towards the frontier districts as part of the anti-smuggling vigil as almost all hides were supposed to be processed in the central regions of the country.
The average prices of hides and skins are comparatively low this year at the field level and the real profits are reportedly going to the pockets of middlemen, tannery owners and smugglers' syndicates, market sources said.
The prices of cowhides at the marginal level ranged between Tk 750 and Taka 1,500, goatskin between Tk 100 and Tk 180 and the buffalo hide between Tk 700 and Tk 850. The benefit of these low prices went to the pockets of Fariahs, market sources said.
The lower market prices of the skins has been caused by a section of tannery owners as they warned the local traders for mysterious reasons not to purchase the animal skins at rates more than Taka 30 per foot, the sources said today.
They also said that the Fariahs this time did not get any bank loans and most of them borrowed their capital from the illegal moneylenders at higher interest rates to purchase the hides and skins.
After preliminary processing, the sources, said, the Fariahs are now selling these hides and skins to the medium and big skin traders in larger markets of the region.
More than Tk 2 billion (200 crore) of the marginal, smaller and medium traders as well as `Mohajans' of the country's northern districts have been lying unpaid by the big skin traders for the last one decade. But the payments in this trade are now almost regular, they said.
The 'Arats' or 'Mokams' in the big markets in northern districts are now flooded with the hides and skins of sacrificial animals.
The marginal traders feel that the government should immediately set up tanneries in the northern districts to make the best use of this item of higher economic value.
The market sources said the prices of hides and skins further dropped Friday from the Thursday's level as the bigger merchants suddenly started buying the item at much lower rates for unknown reasons.
"Most of the hides and skins of sacrificial animals are feared to be smuggled out to India as the prices fixed by the 'Marwari' syndicates are much higher than that of those in the local markets this time. These syndicates on both sides of the border are now ready to pursue this unscrupulous trade," marginal traders told BSS.
Former Organising Secretary of Small-scale Skin Traders Association of Rangpur Raju Ahmed Rana, Mahtab Ali and Zuz Mia alleged that the country's hides and skins trade has already become hostage into the hands of tannery owners based in Dhaka.
Taking this advantages, they said, some syndicates from across the borders are smuggling out most of the hides and skins to India.
They also said that the country might earn huge foreign currency every year if required number of tanneries are established in the northern region as early as possible.
Representatives of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), Police and other law enforcement agencies told the news agency that they have taken adequate steps this time to resist any bid of smuggling out the hides and skins of sacrificial animals to India along the 2,000 km common border.
Police superintendents of all northern districts have exchanged views with the hides and skins traders and others concerned in this regard while the BDR authorities have alerted all its outposts and officials to prevent smuggling of hides and skins.


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