Entrepreneurs on Sunday demanded an end to the existing discrimination in tariff rates on the import of fire safety equipment.
They made the demand at the first meeting of the FBCCI Standing Committee on Fire Safety, Disaster and Explosion held at FBCCI.
They were referring to the fact that the government has only allowed tax benefits for the import of fire safety equipment to the garment sector .
But the image of Bangladesh abroad is tarnished when fires break out in other industries as well.
Moreover, they said, workers in all sectors have equal rights to safety and security.
Therefore, there should be no such discrimination in the tariff rate on the import of fire safety equipment, they demanded.
The committee chairman Md. Niaz Ali Chisty said it is important for factories in all sectors to have fire protection systems to ensure safe industrialization in the country.
But other than the garment industry, other industrialists have to bear the heavy tax burden of importing these much-needed equipment, he said.
The total tax incidence is 58.6 percent in fire door, fire alarm cable and hose reel imports, 37 percent in gate valve, 26.2 percent in fire pump and fire alarm system (detector), 11.05 percent in fire extinguisher and 31 percent in ABC dry powder, he informed.
Due to high tax incidence, he said, it is often not possible for small and medium entrepreneurs to take adequate fire protection measures. Hence, he demanded equal benefits for all sectors like the readymade garment industry.
Separate permits, required for the import of carbon dioxide, foam, dry powder and other fire-resistant gases and chemicals result in harassment and time delay for the importers.
As there is no BSTI laboratory in Chattogram, chemicals have to be sent to Dhaka for testing, which takes an additional 8 to 10 days. Prices have risen due to fares at ports and containers for those days.
Speaking as the chief guest at the meeting, FBCCI Vice President Md. Amin Helaly said that the development of Bangladesh has been largely informal. But now it is time to ensure security to the industry.
He urged the standing committee to prepare an action plan to ensure fire safety in the factory.
He also recommended starting sector-based training by preparing a training manual. At the same time, the vice-president urged the importers to take initiative to manufacture fire safety equipment locally.
Abu Motaleb, director-in-charge of the committee, said there could be various reasons behind the fire at the factory.
But first of all, the owner is blamed. He said the standing committee would soon submit a policy to the FBCCI identifying the problems and action plan to ensure fire safety in the factory, he added.
A sub-committee is also formed at the meeting to formulate that policy.
During the meeting, Brig Gen. (retd) Abu Nayeem Md Shahidullah, advisor of FBCCI's Safety Council, said that FBCCI has already contacted ILO to start safety training in the industry.
The government is also considering setting up a national level one-stop service in order to provide all fire safety certificates and permits, he informed.
FBCCI Director Harun Or Rashid, Secretary General Mohammad Mahfuzul Hoque, Standing Committee Co-Chairman Md. Wahid Uddin, Mohammed Shahjahan, Abul Hossain, M Mahmudur Rashid, Zakir Uddin Ahmed, Mohammad Shamsul Haque Jamil, Mohammad Awlad Husain Rajib, Mohammad Monzur Alam, Tanjir Ahmmed Tohin and other members of the committee were present in the meeting.