Monthly Archives: May 2008

Exciting prospects of earning billions from medicine exports

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.info/search_index.php?page=detail_news&news_id=35189

Exciting prospects of earning billions from medicine exports

Enayet Rasul

Indeed, the foreign currency earning prospects of the pharmaceutical sector are considered to be no less than the readymade garment (RMG) which is presently the single biggest export earning sector of the country. With steady promotional activities favouring the local pharmaceutical industries, these in the near future may overtake the RMG sector in export earnings. This is the view of experts.

Reportedly, the country earned the equivalent of 1.3 billion Taka from medicine export in fiscal year 2004-5, Taka 1.84 billion in 2005-6 and Taka 1.94 billion in 2006-7. More than taka 5 billion worth of pharmaceutical products have been exported so far in the current year. From the way medicine export from Bangladesh is picking up, it is projected that export earnings from this sector can rise to some 50 billion Taka in the medium term. The higher earnings show that the pharmaceutical industry has been doing progressively better ; an upward progression in the export of medicines is noted . This is no doubt heartening news in the backdrop of the pressing need to diversify export products and earn more from exports to add to the foreign currency reserve .

World Trade Organisation (WTO) agreements have created vast opportunities for Bangladeshi medicine producers to substantially increase medicine exports from this country between 2006 to 20016. Bangladesh can export medicines as a least developed country to 49 countries under the WTO agreement without fulfilling patent requirements. Its neigbouring and competing countries – Sri Lanka, Pakistan and India – do not have this facility that limit their exports in this field. A Bangladeshi company was invited to export to European markets in the present year. Opportunities for exporting medicines to Myanmar on a large scale are there. The demand for our medicines in the Middle Eastern and African countries are rising fast.

However, policies of successive governments from now on will have to be in the right direction to keep on encouraging this potential sector. If supports not in words but in deeds are extended to it, then it will soon emerge as a very thriving one tapping the vast international market and earning bounties in foreign currencies.

The government should immediately recognise the merit of accepting and working on the proposals that have been made by the Bangladesh Association of Pharmaceutical Industries (BAPI). The demands are fair and realistic to truly promote the sector. The BAPI has demanded giving of cash incentives to export-oriented pharmaceutical industries. Such incentives are being given to other export-oriented sectors and there is no reason for the pharmaceutical industries with so much export possibilities not to enjoy the same. The pharmaceutical industries would be fully deserving such incentives as the government officially accorded recognition to them as a thrust sector. But matching this declaration the cash incentives have not followed. Incentives ranging from 10 to 30 per cent are enjoyed by medicine exporters from India, Sri Lanka and China.

The other major demands is for the establishment of a government operated central testing laboratory for export- oriented pharmaceutical industries. The laboratory can be very useful in strengthening the reputation of local pharmaceutical products abroad through dependable quality certification. The BAPI has also urged the establishment of active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) plants. The creation of such a plant will likely much increase the value-addition and competitiveness of locally owned pharmaceutical industries. The making of medicines locally after importing the raw materials adds to costs and time. Both can be substantially reduced and the longer term growth and security of the sector can be ensured by building the API plants.

The plan to set up an API producing park has been very recently adopted in a meeting of the National Economic Council. Thus, the way has been cleared for the establishment of this pivotal facility at Munshiganj in Dhaka. After its establishment, a number of local pharmaceutical companies are expected to invest some Taka 20 billion in it to set up plants to manufacture pharmaceutical ingredients. It now all depends upon how swiftly the government moves to implement the plan. The same involves getting plots ready for hand over to the pharma industries which are bent on investing in this API park. Not only getting the plots ready, government should set up various required supporting infrastructures inside the park for the companies to be enabled to establish and run the API plants there at the earliest. If the government corporation which would be developing the API project does its work in due time, the companies to invest in it can be expected to start producing APIs within only six months of getting their plots.

Considerable hazards or bureaucratic obstacles are confronted by the local pharmaceutical companies in sending samples abroad, to station or appoint representatives in foreign countries, in sending money for the purpose and doing other promotional activities. Government is expected to sort out these problems. Our foreign missions abroad should be directed to play a truly energetic role in searching markets and engaging in promotional activities for the pharmaceutical sector. The patent law of 1933 still remains though its suitable amendments are considered as necessary by exporters in the field to go for wider export activities.

Besides, a number of major exporters in the sector are now facing very great problems in maintaining their activities.

For example, Beximco Pharma, is considered as a flagship enterprise in this sector. But its export momentum has dwindled down notably as a consequence of the anticorruption drive. A number of other medicine exporting companies are facing similar problems. Government should take steps promptly for these companies to sustain in their full operations.

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7.2pc GDP growth, 7.3m jobs creation planned

http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2008/05/31/news0087.htm

2nd PRSP by June 30: Implementation to require Tk 2,600b over 3 years: 7.2pc GDP growth, 7.3m jobs creation planned

Syed Zahirul Abedin

Bangladesh will require some Tk 2,60,000 crore (Tk 2,600 billion) for implementing its second Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP). The amount will be required for implementing the objectives and targets fixed in the proposed PRSP. In the new PRSP the GDP growth has been estimated at 7.2 per cent for the next three years (2008-2011). In order to achieve this growth, creation of 73 lakh (7.3 million) additional jobs during the period have been planned.

The government is going to finalise the 2nd PRSP by June 30, sources at the Ministry of Planning told The New Nation.

The Planning Commission has already finalized the draft of the new PRSP for the next three years. Now opinions will be sought from different stakeholders on the draft PRSP before finalizing it.

The Planning Commission has arranged a two-day participatory consultative meeting to seek opinions from different stakeholders. This consultative meeting will be held at the NEC Conference Room at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in the city on June 1 and 2. Country’s leading economists, academics, media personalities, civil society and NGO representatives, business leaders and researchers will take part in the two-day meeting and present their opinions and suggestions. These opinions and suggestions will be incorporated in the draft PRSP after necessary examinations. Then the new PRSP document will be finalized and placed to the Advisory Council of the caretaker government for approval.

It may be mentioned that the first PRSP is going to be expired on June 30 of the current fiscal year. In such a situation, the government has decided to formulate the second PRSP. General Economic Division of the Planning Commission is working as the ‘focal point’ in formulation of the new PRSP. The duration of the second PRSP will be three years (2008-2011).

PRSP is regarded a government’s poverty reduction document. Taking this document into account, the government will plan and carry on its overall development activities till 2011.

The first PRSP formulated during the rule of BNP-led four-party alliance government was rejected by the then opposition political parties, including Awami League. The opposition parties raised the objections against the first PRSP saying that the opinions of common people of the country were not properly reflected in that PRSP.

Sources at the General Economic Division of the Planning Commission said priorities to the issues like agriculture, food security, climate change etc have been given in the new PRSP.

In the new PRSP the GDP growth target has been estimated at over 7.0 per cent for the next three years while the revenue earnings have been estimated at about 12 per cent of the total GDP. The export target has been estimated at 17.5 per cent of GDP while import target at 20 per cent and domestic investment at 27 per cent of GDP. Inflation rate during the period has been projected at 7 per cent, while remittances by expatriate Bangladeshis have been estimated at US$15 billion and foreign exchange reserve has been estimated at US$8.62 billion. In order to achieve these goals and implement the ongoing reforms, the government will require Tk 2,60,000 crore over the next three years.

It is learnt that at present the country’s foreign exchange reserve is more than 5 billion US dollar while remittance earnings amount to 6 billion US dollar. On the other hand, domestic investment is 23 per cent of GDP, inflation is more than 12 per cent, and the GDP growth is below 6.0 per cent.

Officials at the Planning Commission say that the government will have to give emphasis on two major issues for achieving 7.2 per cent GDP growth as envisioned in the second PRSP. These are: export of a large number of manpower and introduction of special programmes for employment generation.

It is mentioned in the new PRSP that the employment generation programmes undertaken by the government and NGOs are not sufficient for poverty alleviation in the country. For poverty alleviation the government will have to introduce guaranteed employment schemes.

Besides, it is mentioned in the draft PRSP that the amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Bangladesh is not satisfactory though the country follows a liberal FDI policy.

In the draft PRSP it has been recommended that the government will have to take necessary measures to attract FDI and make vigorous efforts to explore new markets abroad to enhance export earnings.

Referring to the issue of domestic resource mobilization, it has been recommended that the government will have to widen the tax net in future.

In order to increase tax revenue earnings, it has been recommended that the government will have to strengthen the tax administration system.

Besides, monitoring system will have to be consolidated to increase land tax and revenue earnings from other sources.

For increasing agricultural productivity it has been recommended to enhance government expenditures in agriculture sector, raise allocations to agriculture researches, development of market infrastructure in rural areas, ensuring the timely availability of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds in the hands of farmers.

In order to resolve the power crisis, it has been recommended that the government will have to implement the three-year long (2007-2009) roadmap which has already been adopted (by the government).

About becoming a middle income country

http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.info/search_index.php?page=detail_news&news_id=35184

About becoming a middle income country

Abul Quasem Haider

According to a recent World Bank (WB) report, “Bangladesh: technique for earning sustained economic growth”, Bangladesh will be in the middle income group by 2016. It states that if the country achieves a growth rate of 7.5 per cent from its own resources it would be possible to achieve the goal. A benchmark for 185 countries prepared by the WB, categories countries having per capita gross national income (GNI) of $905 or below as low income group, those of the $ 906 to $ 3,095 bracket as low-middle income group, $ 3596 to $ 11,115 as high-middle income group and $ 11,116 and above as high income group.

The yearly per capita GNI of the people of Bangladesh is above $3,000. In spite of droughts, floods and other natural calamities, the economists think that Bangladesh will once enter the global scenario on its own strength.

At its Golden Jubilee in 2021, it appears from the economic reviews that Bangladesh is going to be a country of the middle income category.

Like most other countries of the world, Bangladesh has been facing multiple social and economic challenges. The average income of the people of Bangladesh has increased by 75 per cent compared to that of 1990. Poverty has also dropped to below 40 per cent from 58 per cent in 1992. The small loan-giving organisations made a contribution to bringing down the poverty rate. But the role of these small-loan giving organisations is not sufficient enough to achieve economic breakthrough for a country like Bangladesh. The role of this sector alone is not sufficient to achieve the goal. To become a middle income country, all round measures have to be taken to create huge opportunities for employment, poverty alleviation, creation and distribution of wealth, welfare-oriented administration, transparency, accountability and overall development of manpower and its proper utilisation.

To become a country of middle income group, Bangladesh needs to increase production through rapid industrialisation. Its industrial growth rate has to be raised and the share of this sector in the gross domestic product (GDP) has to be increased to 40 per cent. At the same time, agricultural growth rate has to be increased. The contribution of service sector to the GDP has to be raised to 50 per cent.

Side by side with the ready-made garments (RMG) industries, the export of processed food, leather, medicine, ceramics, home textiles and small scale technologies should be boosted. Besides, other progressive export-oriented sectors should also be developed. Bangladesh is facing tough competition from China, Vietnam and India. In order to survive in the competitive market, new export-oriented industries must be set up.

The private sector has to be given absolute priority. Industrial development is never possible without the initiative of the private sector. Importance should also be given to small- and medium-scale industries to suit the needs of densely-populated Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is yet to take skill development programmes. It should send skilled and not unskilled workforce for jobs abroad. Entrepreneurs in the country could absorb manpower sporadically and they should arrange training for developing their skills. To develop skilled workforce, a long-term plan is required. The issue should also be included in the national budget because without skilled labour force production can not be increased. Budget allocation in education sector should be increased considerably to help raise, the standard and quality, and to expand the coverage, of mass education and vocational education. Technical, vocational and service-oriented training facilities should be developed.

The precondition for attracting foreign investment is the political stability of the country. To create a congenial atmosphere for investment, a permanent organisational structure, free from maladministration and interference, needs to be established to provided necessary facilities to the investors. The process of export-import activities should be simplified and protected from all sorts of harassment. The government has to take initiative to make a favourable environment for the capital market.

Industrialisation is not possible without infrastructural development. Developed infrastructure, uninterrupted supply of electricity, export aid scheme, availability of modern technology, trained manpower, increase of assistance to specialised technical personnel and compliance with the buyers’ requirements have to be ensured. The main problems of our infrastructure are inadequacy of roads and highways, bridges and culverts, and insufficient supply of electricity and gas in the industrial belts. For the growth of business, we have to build a coordinated system of transportation. Ours is a country of rivers. To utilise this facility, we have to give importance to waterway transportation to increase trade with the neighbouring countries. The railways needs to be improved to facilitate easy transportation of containers between Dhaka and Chittagong. Now only 10 per cent of the containers are transported through the railways. The sea-ports do also need to be equally developed to facilitate trading. Of the total export-import trade, of the country, about 85 per cent are now handled at the Chittagong port. But this port suffers from negligence in loading-unloading and low productivity of the labourers, besides other problems. The problems are caused due to harassment in the name of trade unions. The caretaker government, however, addressed the issue to increase efficiency by about 30 per cent.

To be a middle income country, Bangladesh has to give extra emphasis on its agriculture. We could not, so far, derive the expected results from the agriculture due to scanty use of scientific appliances. Since the major portion of our workforce is engaged in agriculture, we have to increase investment in research-related activities and for, use of scientific methods and high technology and diversification of crops. This will help increase productivity needed for better distribution of income. Agricultural product-processing industries need to be established by improving the farming practices using high-breed seeds.

The National Board of Revenues (NBR) being an outdated organisation, the volume of revenue collection remains not up to the desired level. The total collection of revenue in 2006-2007 was only 10.7 per cent of GDP. The revenue earning has to be enhanced by widening the range of taxation. The caretaker administration has implemented the system of imposing tax on undeclared income. As a result in the current financial year, 2007-2008, revenue income in the first five moths has increased by 22.4 per cent.

Every year big allocations for the Annual Development Programme (ADP) remain unutilised. This year the government reduced the ADP size from $3700 million to $3200 million. To become a middle income country. Bangladesh has to expand further the base of taxation. Without increasing revenue earnings, the benefit for the masses is not possible.

A great hindrance to development remains the natural calamities like floods, droughts and cyclones. Every year the natural calamities cause staggering losses to the economy. In the year 2007, natural calamities occurred twice causing immense losses which almost brought the national economy on the verge of collapse. The Sidr alone caused a loss of $ 1600 million.

The state-owned enterprises sector is incurring huge financial losses every year. Among the top losers are Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC), Biman Bangladesh, Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) and Bangladesh Power Development Board. Besides, some of the state-owned commercial banks and autonomous organisations are incurring losses. In the financial year 2006, the BJMC incurred the second highest amount of financial loss amounting to Taka 2.30 billion (Tk 230 crores). The BPC, due to selling oil at subsidised rate, is facing a heavy burden of debt. In the current financial year until February 6, 2008, BPC’s debts to the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) stood at $512 million to Bangladesh Bank $299 million and to four state-owned banks, $446 million. As a result, the banking sector has been adversely affected. Financial management is far from sound due to increasing liability of subsidies. The policy for allowing subsidy is now required to be changed. The subsidy should be provided only to improve the facilities for people to offset the risks of being affected by the natural calamities. The payment of such subsidies should be stopped for running the organisations that have been incurring financial loss for years together for inefficiency and corruption.

To make Bangladesh a middle income country, permanent political stability and clear policies are needed immediately. The pace of development has many a to be undisturbed. The WB has suggested for competitive private sector, product diversification, commercialisation of agriculture, trade liberalisation, and building more city centres as dependable alternatives to the Dhaka city.

To become a middle income country, increased rapid growth rate on a sustained basis will be very critical.

The writer is a columnist, and former Vice President, FBCCI

Govt to reduce dependence on WB, IMF prescriptions

http://nation.ittefaq.com/issues/2008/05/31/news0093.htm

Budget 2008-09: Govt to reduce dependence on WB, IMF prescriptions: 4-tier duty structure likely, protection to local industries stressed

Pulack Ghatack

Exigencies are likely to dominate the next budget as the Government this time is attaching more importance to it over the prescriptions of the World Bank and IMF marking a shift in the policy at home.

The officials of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund also seem to be less active this year to influence the fiscal measures like duty cuts on finished products for further import liberalisation.

Rather, the next budget may include measures to protect local industry from the rising cost of raw materials in the international market.

Massive change is going to be brought in the duty structure by splitting it into four tiers, which is a clear shift from the donor suggested fiscal policy. According to the suggestions of the donors, a three-tier duty structure was introduced in the budget two years back, with massive duty cuts on imports-ignoring local investors plea.

However, the Government in the next budget would give facilities to import raw materials and intermediate products, which are used to produce import-alternative commodities.

Moreover, import duty would be raised considerably on finished products, which are already produced locally. The local business community’s suggestions are getting priority in this regard, sources in the National Board of Revenue (NBR) said.

The import duty on capital machinery would be reduced to three per cent from existing five per cent, while duty on intermediate goods and industrial raw materials would be cut down to 7 per cent from existing 10 per cent, the sources informed.

The measures would help reduce production csost of the local industries. Separate measures are also being taken to trim down the production cost of food items, NBR officials said.

Annisul Huq, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), said the budget must be friendly to the local industries, which were suffering from price hike of imported raw materials.

“So we have formally proposed and urged the NBR to reduce import duty on raw materials and raise the same on finished products,” he told The New Nation.

Moreover, the Government is also not so serious with budget deficit, which is always stressed by the multinational lending agencies. The overall budget deficit is going to stand at 5 per cent for the upcoming fiscal year 2008-09, though the donors have suggested to narrow it down to 4 per cent, it is learnt.

“Obviously, the budget deficit will increase,” Finance and Planning Adviser Dr Mirza AB Azizul Islam said at a function recently. The country’s leading economists and researchers also gave the Government the green signal to go ahead with its plan to widen budget deficit necessary for financing increased expenditures due to the present price situation.

Besides fiscal policy, the monetary policy of the Government has also shifted markedly from the tendency to follow IMF suggestions meticulously. Experiencing a failure to curb inflation, the Bangladesh Bank in recent months has shunned the contractionary policy and has eased money supply.

Last year the whole raft of duty measures was planned at the insistence of WB and IMF and the current budget saw a departure from the earlier fiscal measures supporting local industries.

Prescribed by the lenders, the Government withdrew infrastructure development surcharge from several hundred finished goods and imposed or enhanced duties on industrial raw materials.

Besides, zero duty import facility was removed from above 400 industrial raw materials and machinery, which became subject to 10 per cent tariff in the current fiscal year.

Import duty on about 1200 items, mostly industrial machinery and raw materials, went up to 10 per cent from previous five per cent.

The budget for the 2007-08 fiscal doubled the minimum duty to 10 per cent, while import of intermediate goods became subject to 3 per cent higher tariffs.

Economists and industrialists termed the fiscal measures as ‘suicidal’ for the country’s ailing industrial economy. Such measures might make the multilateral lending agencies happy, but would hit the local industry hard, they cautioned at that time.

The successive governments had long been pursuing policies to protect local industries under duty and para-tariff measures, also practiced in almost all countries around the globe.

Private partnership soon to finance power sector

http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=39022

Govt Drafting Policy
Private partnership soon to finance power sector
Staff Correspondent

The government is preparing a policy to finance the power sector with private partnership, said Special Assistant to the Chief Adviser for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Prof M Tamim yesterday.

“The government will have 51 percent share while its private partners will have 49 percent,” he said while speaking as the chief guest at a workshop styled “Energy Security and Development: Perspective Bangladesh” organised by Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA) and Bangladesh Heritage Foundation in cooperation with Grameen Shakti.

The review of the draft coal policy is almost complete and it will be sent to the law ministry for vetting in seven-10 days, he said emphasising the need for setting up coal-fired power plants to lessen the pressure on gas consumption so that gas can be used as fuel in vehicles and industries and the production of fertiliser.

“There are no major changes in the coal policy that the last committee drafted,” he said.

Referring to the point that Bangladesh passed a poor period in terms of gas exploration during the last 10 years, he said, “We have allocated money for Bapex to explore for gas and asked international oil companies to do the same.”

Gas price, however, has to be changed, Tamim said, adding that there is no immediate plan to increase gas price.

Asked if the government supports open-pit mining at Phulbari coalmine, Tamim, also a petroleum engineer, said it is only the coalmine experts and environmentalists who can say which method is appropriate for that area.

Energy experts at the workshop suggested strengthening negotiations with India, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar for regional cooperation in the energy sector.

Even though gas reserves will lessen considerably in next one decade or so, Bangladesh has adequate coal reserves which should be properly utilised, said Maj Gen Aminul Karim NDC, military secretary to the president.

“If adequate energy is not present, our GDP will go down,” he said, adding that bureaucratic tangles created tremendous problems in the power sector.

In his presentation, Prof Ijaz Hossain of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet) said, “Considering the coal reserves of Bangladesh, the country has better energy security compared to India and USA. So, there is nothing to worry about.”

He said Bangladesh does not need to export coal, rather it needs strategies on how more investments could be made for power generation in line with power demands.

Rural Electrification Board Director BD Rahmatullah said massive usage of energy saving bulbs and electronic ballasts would save a few hundred megawatts of electricity. Campaign programmes for power saving should be launched to mitigate the present power crisis, he added.

Petrobangla Chairman Jalal Ahmed said gas crisis is intensifying troubles in power generation and therefore diversifying the sources of energy is required.

Abdul Gafran of Grameen Shakti suggested putting a spotlight on renewable sources of energy, especially in the rural areas where people cannot afford gas. A wind-mapping of the country should be carried out to pave the way for investors to come here and invest in wind power, he said.

Lt Gen Zahir, Lt Col Moin Uddin and former chairman of Power Development Board Quamrul Islam Siddiqui also spoke at the programme chaired by BILIA Director Ambassador Wali-ur Rahman. Representatives of development partners and businesses were also present.

Samuda aims to be major producer of industrial chemicals

http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=38815

Samuda aims to be major producer of industrial chemicals
Sarwar A Chowdhury

An industrial chemical manufacturing company aims for expansion to become the leading local producer of hydrogen peroxide.

“After meeting the local requirements, we will also be able to export hydrogen peroxide,” said Mustafa Haider, managing director of Samuda Chemical.

Samuda Chemical Complex Ltd, which is now producing 35 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide per day in its single unit, is setting up another two units with a production capacity of 70 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide per day.

Presently, demand for hydrogen peroxide stands at 35,000 tonnes, which is used mainly in the textile dyeing and paper and pulp industries for bleaching or cleaning.

Of the total domestic market demand of 35,000 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide, Samuda and another local company produce around 20,000 tonnes of the product, while the remaining 15,000 tonnes are imported at a price of US$ 520 to $ 525 (around Tk 36,400 to Tk 36,750) per tonne.

“After starting production at our additional units, we can transform Bangladesh into a hydrogen peroxide exporting country from its present status of a hydrogen peroxide importing country within a year,” Haider said.

“With the addition of two new units, we will also be the largest hydrogen peroxide producer in the country with a total production capacity of around 30,000 tonnes of hydrogen peroxide per year,” he said, adding that the company will be able to supply each tonne of hydrogen peroxide at a price of Tk 21,000 to Tk 25,000.

Samuda, which started hydrogen peroxide manufacturing in the mid 2006, has already signed a memorandum of understanding with Nuberg Engineering Ltd for installation of two new hydrogen peroxide units, using Swedish technology.

Haider said the use of hydrogen peroxide in textile dyeing industry is on the rise as it is more eco-friendly than chlorine based products, which is also used in the dyeing units for bleaching or cleaning textile products.

“In India, use of chlorine based products in the dyeing units has been stopped, as it is harmful for aqua-culture environment,” he said.

Along with hydrogen peroxide, the company also produces caustic soda, sodium hypo chloride, chlorinated para fimrex, hydro choleric acid, stable bleaching powder, bleaching earth and liquid chlorine.

Rahimafrooz to set up new auto battery plant

http://www.thedailystar.net/story.php?nid=38813

Rahimafrooz to set up new auto battery plant
Expansion needed to meet export demand
Refayet Ullah Mirdha

Rahimafrooz, the country’s leading automotive battery manufacturer and exporter, is setting up a separate plant at Ishwardi in Pabna district to produce batteries to meet growing demand worldwide.

A senior official of the company said the new plant, a joint venture, is scheduled to go into operation by the year-end with a target to manufacture 2 lakh batteries a month.

Pointing to the fast progress in the work, he said, “Machinery for the Ishwardi plant has already been purchased. If everything goes alright, we are hopeful that the fully export-oriented company will go into operation within this year.”

At present, Rahimafrooz has been exporting automotive batteries to more than 35 countries including India, Dubai, Vietnam, Jamaica, Ghana, Chile, Paraguay, Mauritania and Lebanon, the official said.

The company mainly exports its brands Volta, Delta and Optus to those countries. Another Rahimafrooz brand ‘Locus’ battery is produced for the local market.

Sources said in 2008 the total export of the company may cross Tk 700 million. The company’s export earning from batteries was Tk 571 million in 2007.

The company is also planning to transfer its Nakhalpara plant to Ashulia soon in order to reduce pollution levels in Dhaka.

Presently the company has two plants–one at Nakhalpara and the other at Savar. Between them they produce 1.40 lakh batteries per month.

“You can say the whole local market for automotive batteries is controlled by Rahimafrooz as there is hardly any local competitor,” the official told The Daily Star.

Of the total production, 50 percent is exported and the remaining is sold in the local market, he said.