Monthly Archives: May 2009

Refrigerators to be exported to Africa, Europe

Refrigerators to be exported to Africa, Europe
Economic Reporter

For the first time, a local company is going to export its world standard refrigerators to African and European countries.

RB Group of Companies, a familiar name in the country’s electronics and automobiles sector, has completed most of the tasks including signing agreements to export refrigerators to some countries of the two continents. Sources said RB Group would be able to send their world standard products to the countries within few months.

Walton High Tech Industry established on 20 acres of land at Chandra in Garipur, outskirts of the capital Dhaka, is now manufacturing world standard refrigerators. The high-tech factory is capable of producing over six lakh refrigerators annually as against as the domestic demand of four lakh refrigerators. The factory has created an employment opportunity for over two thousand of people.

Policymakers of the company said the factory is equipped with the latest technology and capable to increase production of refrigerators if they get opportunity to export more refrigerators to foreign countries.

Assistant Director of RB Group (Export) Mizanur Rahman said Japanese entrepreneurs now are not interested in manufacturing refrigerators in their country as they are facing high labour cost and other problems. Japanese now see import of refrigerators from foreign countries like Bangladesh that witness duty free facility and cheap labour cost.

With a view to importing refrigerators from Bangladesh, representatives of several Japanese companies recently visited the Walton High Tech Industry and have expressed their satisfaction over the world standard production facility of the factory. Some Japanese companies have already taken some initiatives like opening LC to import refrigerators. Mizanur Rahman hoped that within few months Walton refrigerators would be exhibited in the showrooms of Japan and some European countries.


Retail pharma sales to peak in 2009

Retail pharma sales to peak in 2009

Sajjadur Rahman

Retail pharmaceutical sales are expected to reach Tk 6,000 crore this year, riding on people’s health consciousness and booming hospitals and clinics, industry people say.

Annual turnover from retail drugs sales was Tk 4,701.63 crore in 2008, nearly 7 percent rise over the figure a year earlier, according to IMS (information on medical statistics) data. The market size was Tk 4,075 crore in 2007.

“We expect 15 percent growth this year based on the current sales trend,” said Mizanur Rahman Sinha, managing director of Acme, a fast-growing pharmaceutical company in the country.

Eskayef, which has been growing at 30 percent for the last several years, also believes that the market will grow nearly 15 percent in 2009.

“People’s growing awareness, increased rural penetration of manufacturers and a significant development in healthcare sector helped the industry to grow,” said AM Faruque, managing director of Eskayef.

Some 250 small, medium and large local and multinational companies are in operation in Bangladesh. Many started their business after 2000 sensing the growth potential in the local market.

Of the 250 companies, top 10 companies — Square, Beximco, Eskayef, Incepta, Acme, ACI, Opsonin, Renata, Aristopharma and Drug International take up nearly 70 percent of the total market share, according to the IMS 2008 survey.

The survey reveals that Square Pharmaceuticals, the flagship company of business conglomerate Square Group, holds the leading position in the local market with Tk 943 crore sales in 2008. The company alone holds a fifth of the total market share.

Incepta, the second, sold drugs worth Tk 354 crore in the local market last year.

Beximco, Acme and Eskayef are the third, fourth and fifth respectively, with Tk 333 crore, Tk 247 crore and Tk 218 crore in sales turnover.

“Actually, Eskayef’s retail sales figure was Tk 306 crore in 2008. IMS figure didn’t reflect it,” said AM Faruque.

The sales were only Tk 1 crore in 1990 when Transcom Group took over the company.

“We have set a target to sell Tk 400 crore worth of drugs this year,” said the Eskayef MD.

“We have recently got approval of UK MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) for non-sterile production of tablets, capsules and granules, which will help us to grow further in both local and foreign market,” he added.

Mizanur Rahman Sinha of Acme said rising population and health consciousness and booming hospitals and clinics are pushing retail sales up.

“People’s buying capacity has also increased,” Sinha pointed out.

He said IMS survey covers only urban areas. “But we are very strong in rural markets,” he noted.

Beximco Pharma Director (Sales) Zakaria S Chowdhury also expects 15 percent growth this year, pointing to the positive changes in the country’s political scenario after two-year uncertainty.

Besides meeting 97 percent of the nearly Tk 5,000 crore domestic market demand, the industry exported Tk 300 crore worth of medicines in 2008. The export figure was Tk 200 crore and Tk 150 crore in 2007 and 2006 respectively.

Tipaimukh may cause a disaster, Warn environmentalists

Tipaimukh may cause a disaster, Warn environmentalists
Staff Correspondent

Environmentalists yesterday said Bangladesh must immediately assert that India’s proposed Tipaimukh dam will be a disaster for Bangladesh’s river system, livelihood and environment.

India must also consult with Bangladesh on the proposed dam and comply with the international conventions before embarking on construction of the dam over the cross-boundary river Borak for its Tipaimukh Hydropower Project, they said.

Addressing a press conference organised by Bangladesh Poribesh Andolon (Bapa) at the National Press Club in the city, they raised their voice against the proposed dam.

“We demand for detailed design and other technical information on the proposed dam,” said Bapa general secretary Abdul Matin in his keynote presentation.

Bangladesh must register its protest against the dam before it is built, he said, adding that Surma, Kushiara and Meghna rivers would dry up and Sylhet region would be flooded during rainy season if India constructs the dam.

“What is power-luxury for India is a life-and-death question for Bangladesh,” said Bapa president Prof Muzaffer Ahmad. “Energy cannot be more important than human disaster.”

He condemned recent statements by a couple of ministers that the damage would be assessed after the dam is built. “Refrain from utterances that may harm interests of the country and the people,” said Prof Ahmad.

Responding to commerce minister’s comment that people are talking of the dam without knowing about it, Prof Ahmad said, “We have been working on Tipaimukh dam issue since 2004 and we invite the minister to have a share of what information we have.”

Tipaimukh is going to be more disastrous than Farakka barrage that has destroyed river Padma and ecology in the country’s southwestern region, he said.

ASM Shahjahan, former advisor to a caretaker government and Bapa vice-president, said that the government must forge a consensus among all political parties to deal with the issue.

Construction of river dams is contradictory to global combat on climate change, said Bapa Secretary General Matin.

The proposed dam is to be built 100 kilometres upstream of the confluence of Surma and Kushiara rivers at Jokiganj border in Sylhet. The dam will be 1500 feet long and 500 feet high. Expected power generation capacity of the dam is 1500 megawatt. Indian authorities have targeted to complete the project by 2012, said Matin.

Bapa central leaders Taqsem A Khan, architect Iqbal Habib and Sharif Jamil among others were present.

US firms keen to invest in coal sector

US firms keen to invest in coal sector

Unb, Dhaka

American companies are keen to invest in Bangladesh’s coal sector, State Minister for Power and Energy Shamsul Haque Tuku said yesterday.

He was talking to reporters following a meeting with US Ambassador James F Moriarty at the energy ministry.

He said the US envoy apprised him that American energy companies are interested to help Bangladesh in developing energy sector. They particularly want to invest in coal mining after finalisation of the coal policy by the government.

Following the meeting, the envoy said that the minister discussed many issues regarding the energy sector’s development in Bangladesh and also the assistance for the victims of very recent cyclonic storm ‘Aila’ that hit the country’s southwest coastal belt.

Moriarty noted that the United States would provide necessary assistance for the victims if Bangladesh side seek any help.

A number of US companies, including oil major Chevron, have been operating in the country’s energy and power sector. But this is the first time it was learned that US energy companies are also interested in the coal mines.

Bangladesh has about five coal mines in the country’s northern region, having a total coal deposit of 2.5 billion tons.

A draft coal policy is now being reviewed by the government.

Govt seems to be undermining Tipaimukh danger

Govt seems to be undermining Tipaimukh danger

THE Awami League-led government, it increasingly seems, has somehow been convinced by its New Delhi counterparts that there is benefit for Bangladesh to be had from the construction of the Tipaimukh Dam/s on the river Barak. Ever since the Indian high commissioner disclosed late last week India’s plan to go ahead with the construction of the dam, at least three members of the cabinet said Dhaka would not oppose the project if it benefits Bangladesh. The commerce minister, Faruk Khan, as usual, came up with by far the strongest hint that the government may have been already convinced that dam could after all benefit, and not harm, Bangladesh, when he told journalists on Tuesday that ‘those who are talking too much against construction of the dam are talking without knowing anything…’ He did say the government ‘will soon send a delegation comprising experts and parliamentarians to see what is going on there and how it will benefit Bangladesh.’ That is, however, hardly reassuring.

It would indeed be interesting to know who the commerce minister was accusing of ‘talking too much… without knowing anything’; after all, the individuals who have been at the forefront of the ever-intensifying wave of opposition to the Tipaimukh project are mostly experts with years of experience under their belts. Interestingly still, many of them are Indians. They are unanimous in their conclusion that the Tipaimukh Dam/s would wreak an environmental disaster of an unimaginable magnitude and adversely affect millions of people on either side of the Bangladesh-India border who rely on the Meghna river system for their livelihood. Needless to say, their conclusions are based on an ever-growing pile of scientific evidence.

The benefit that the government may be envisaging, i.e. import of electricity generated from the dam, could turn out to be a chimera. In an article published in New Age on May 21, Dr Solbam Ibotombi, who teaches earth sciences at Manipur University and is a staunch critic of the Tipaimukh project, writes that ‘the dam was originally conceived to contain the floodwater in the Cachar plain of Assam but, later on, emphasis has been placed on hydroelectric power generation, having an installation capacity of 1,500MW but only firm generation capacity of 412MW.’ If so is the case, what percentage of the 412MW of electricity the government expects to import from India, which is no less electricity-starved than Bangladesh, and at what cost? As argued by Ibotombi and other Indian experts, the cost involved here is not just the cost of electricity but the irreparable economic and environmental damage that the project is likely to cause.

When there is a growing body of scientific evidence as well as strong opposition within India against the Tipaimukh project, the argument put forth by the commerce minister and some of his colleagues, i.e. there may be benefit in the project for Bangladesh, can hardly be construed as being a product of naivety and inadequate knowledge. In fact, given the Indian government’s perceived predilection for the Awami League, it could very well be construed as the government’s willingness to submit to Delhi’s plans. Here, the credibility of the government is not at stake alone, the livelihood of millions of people in India and Bangladesh is as well. The ministers in question would surely have done a great service to the country and to themselves if they took the pains to gather the details of the dam project and also go through the scientific evidences that point at the potential economic and environmental damage that the Tipaimukh project would cause. If they had, they might have thought twice before suggesting that Bangladesh is likely to benefit from the project and that the critics of the project are ‘talking too much… without knowing anything’.

SMEs empower country’s dev

SMEs empower country’s dev

FE Report

From a solar panel assembler to an arsenic-buster, contact lens producer, generator equipment maker, Bangladeshi small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are varied and strong, powering the country’s development at a time of global economic downturn.

The picture was evident in the fourth SME fair now going on at the Bangladesh-China Friendship center, where more than 80 micro- entrepreneurs are displaying the country’s green shoots of industrialisation.

Like the last three years, the SME entrepreneurs from different parts of the country are participating in the SME fair 2009 with an expectation to tap the markets both at home and abroad besides making people aware of the sector’s development.

Product range also varied from power and sun glasses, contact and cornea ulcer lens, automobile filters for world famous brands of Toyota, Corolla, Nissan, CNG and Mehendro vehicles to home products, leather, Ayurvedic food, beauty products and jute rugs.

Abdus Salam, participating in the SME fair for the first time this year, said his entry to SME began in 2003 by producing organic fertiliser. But he gradually expanded his avenues to expand his market for organic fertilisers and products. His product ranges from food and ends to energy efficiency goods including soya milk, soya meat, organic bricks, solar panel and bio fuel.

Under Uttarbanga Fertiliser Ind. Ltd and Northern Agro Products Ltd, Salam is now cropping organic fruits, vegetables and paddy in Panchagarh of North Bengal on more than 300 acres of land. He was also one of the designers to formulate the country’s standard of organic products.

Venture Group to set up nano-tech paint plant

Venture Group to set up nano-tech paint plant

Star Business Report

Venture Group (VG) is set to establish the first ever nanotechnology-enabled paint manufacturing plant in Bangladesh, an official said on Saturday.

The company will set up the plant in Savar with technical support from the India-based Innovation Centre for Applied Nanotechnology, I-CanNano.

I-CanNano claims to be the world leader in the production of paint using nanotechnology.

“Nano-paints are environment-friendly and highly durable,” said AHM Mahtab Uddin, chairman of VG, at a function in the capital. Industries Minister Dilip Barua was present at the function as chief guest.

“The initial investment to set up a nano paint plant is high, but the price of the final product is not more than the price of traditional forms of paint, although it is more durable,” the VG chairman told The Daily Star.

Arup Kumar Chatterjee, chief executive officer of I-CanNano, said: “Nano-paints are affordable and can greatly contribute to preventing corrosion.”

Chatterjee termed the paint eco-friendly as it changes inorganic nano-materials to non-toxic elements.

“We also use natural materials, like nano-carbon from neem oil, waste oil and also convert agriculture waste into nano-materials,” said Chatterjee.

Nano-paints are high-performance paints that disperse inorganic nano-materials. The inorganic route, instead of organic, makes all the difference in the product.