Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today announced to establish two more leather industrial estates in Chittagong and Rajshahi divisions for further flourishing the leather sector.
"We will set up two new leather industry estates -- one in Chittagong division and other in Rajshahi division -- for further promoting the country's leather sector ... establishing such a zone only in Dhaka is not right, it will have to spread all over Bangladesh," she said.
Sheikh Hasina also said the government has taken a decision to keep the issue of continuing 15 percent cash incentive for the next five years under active consideration on a priority basis.
The move was taken to boost local and foreign investment in the leather sector and make it sustainable, she said.
The prime minister said this while inaugurating Bangladesh Leather Footwear and Leathergoods International Sourcing Show (BLLISS) 2017 at International Convention Centre, Bashundhara in the capital this morning, reports BSS.
Sheikh Hasina opened the three-day show at the ICCB through videoconferencing from her official Ganabhaban residence here this morning.
The premier urged the foreign investors and buyers to invest more in Bangladesh's leather sector for further strengthening the country's economy.
"I call upon the foreign investors and buyers for investing in a larger volume in Bangladesh's leather sector and sourcing more in leather goods for further strengthening the country's economy," she said.
The Ministry of Commerce and the Leathergoods and Footwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (LFMEAB) have jointly organised the event to attract more investment in the leather sector.
The theme of the show is "Think Ahead, Think Bangladesh".
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed was present at the function at ICCB as the special guest, while eminent entrepreneur Syed Manzur Elahi and LFMEAB President M Saiful Islam spoke.
The pre-recorded speeches of Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam and Acting FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim were played at the function.
PM's Private Sector Development Adviser Salman F Rahman and Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim were present at Ganabhaban, among others, while Director General (admin) of the PMO Kabir Bin Anwar moderated the function at Ganabhaban.
Ministers, parliament members, diplomats, dignitaries and the leaders of different trade bodies were also present at the ICCB. An audio-video presentation on the past, present and the future of Bangladesh's leather sector was made at the function.
Leaders of industrial sector, world famous brands and international buyers from 15 countries including China, India, Vietnam and Thailand are participating in the show.
Director General (admin) of the PMO Kabir Bin Anwar moderated the function at Ganabhaban. Ministers, parliament members, diplomats, dignitaries and the leaders of different trade bodies were also present at the ICCB.
The premier expressed her hope to attain $ 5 billion export earnings from the leather, leather goods and footwear sector out of the estimated overall export earning of $60 billion as per the Vision 2021.
In this connection, she sought expansion of business of local and foreign entrepreneurs engaged in leather and leathergoods sector to achieve the goal.
Stressing the need for bringing diversification in leather goods to increase export, Sheikh Hasina said the entrepreneurs will have to develop the products and find out new export markets.
"I think our products will have to be international standard," she said and assured of providing necessary help from the government in this regard.
Elaborating various steps of her government for expansion of the export markets of the leather and footwear products, Sheikh Hasina said the ministry of commerce is actively working to formulate and implement annual action plan in this regard.
"Steps have also been taken to set up a testing and calibrating centre to maintain international quality and standard of leather goods and footwear products," she said.
The premier said such initiatives would play a very significant role for the development and diversification of exportable products as well as expansion of the export markets.
Putting emphasis on imparting training to the workers of the leather industry, Sheikh Hasina urged the entrepreneurs engaged in the leather industry to make arrangement for training of the workers involved in cattle slaughtering and preserving of hide.
"The workers will have to be provided with proper knives and machetes so that they could properly slaughter cattle ... if we could use modern technology, we could prepare Bangladesh's cattle hide as a valuable one ... this awareness is yet to be built among us," she said.
"And huge amount of hide could not be used properly due to lack of awareness and I hope that entrepreneurs concerned will be aware and take necessary steps in this regard," she said.
In this regard, she assured them of providing necessary assistance from the government.
The prime minister said her government has been giving more incentives in the leather industry considering its huge potential as the sector is very much labor intensive industry having opportunities of employment, while it would also be a sustainable sector as almost all raw materials are locally available.
Sheikh Hasina said her government is providing tax rebate, 100 percent Export Performance License, 10 percent cash assistance for exporting finished leather goods from the leather industry park and 15 percent cash incentive in the case of exporting leather goods and footwear products.
As a result, she said, renowned international brands are now producing leather goods in joint venture with many of the local entrepreneurs and they are also sourcing Bangladeshi products to meet the demand in the world markets, she said.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh earned nearly 1.23 billion US dollars from the leather sector exporting various products in last 2016-2017 fiscal year that was only 16.18 million dollars on leather and 18 thousand dollars on export of footwear in 1972-73 fiscal.
The premier said an environment-friendly leather industrial estate has been set up in Savar for flourishing the leather sector and saving the Buriganga.
She said most of the tannery industries in Hazaribagh were relocated in Savar. Steps are being taken so that mills and factories could be built in surrounding areas in Savar Leather Industrial Estate, she said.
Praising the organizers for arranging the show for the first time in the country, Sheikh Hasina said it would attract more foreign investment in Bangladesh's a Leather footwear and Leather goods industry sector as well as create huge enthusiasm among the investors.
"It would also help the entrepreneurs around the world know about the government's policy assistance and patronization alongside projecting quality and standard of Bangladeshi leather goods and footwear products before the world community," she said.
"Besides, it would also help publicize Bangladesh's cheap labor markets, low production cost, capability and success of the entrepreneurs which would in turn help boost investment in the sector and exports of Bangladeshi leather and footwear products," she added.