SILCHAR, Feb 19: Members of Sylhet Chamber of Commerce and Industry met their counterparts of Silchar to discuss the prospect of business between the two countries. In a joint press-meet held in the premises of risikhsahram conference hall here on Thursday, they together spoke of the interests of each other and the problems being encountered. Md Hifzul Gulzar, secretary, Imdad Hussain, Emul Kuddus, Pintu Chakraborty and Jalal Ahmed represented Sylhet Chamber of Commerce. Anghu Kumar Roy, president, Pradip Banik, Suman Sarathi Endow, Mridul Mazumdar and Subodh Deb represented Silchar Chamber of Commerce.
Articulating the problems, Sylhet delegation led by Md Hifzul Gulzar said since 1992 the business between the two countries has been going on. Primarily, from Bangladesh Pran beverages, cement, food products, printing and writing paper as well as hilsha fish are being imported to this side of the country. From India, coal, limestone and other commodities have been exported to Bangladesh. Till 2013 – 2014, 30 lakh metric tons of limestone have been imported from India. But, from 2014 – 2015, the rates have been too high to import from this country. Coal and limestone taken in abundance have become costly.
Per ton limestone from India costs 85 dollar now. Bangladesh now imports coal and limestone from Chi, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia because it is less costly. Per ton limestone can be brought at the rate of 48 to 65 dollar only from these countries. Besides, Bangladesh is also on business with South Africa and Vietm. Because of the high costs of importing goods and materials, Bangladesh has to go for business with other countries, the Sylhet representatives pointed out.
Sylhet delegates expressed their desire and willingness to carry on business of interests with the contiguous states of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. They also spoke of the identical culture and language of Sylhet and Barak Valley. They sought the help and cooperation of Silchar Chamber of Commerce. Md Hifzul Gulzar at the same time spoke of other difficulties faced by the businessmen and traders coming from Bangladesh on this side of the border.
At the Sutarkandi and Jakiganj border check posts, one has to identify oneself by pressing his all the ten finger prints. In other check posts of India, biometric finger print has been introduced. Earlier, visas for business in 48 hours used to be issued. This has now been stopped. Businessmen and traders from Bangladesh have to wait for a longer time for visas. It is really unfortute as Sylhet and Barak Valley are closer to each other. Such hindrances have put not only a sort of barrier but also affected business prospect for both sides.
The Sylhet delegation also spoke of promoting tourism between the two sides. In this respect also, they have asked for the cooperation of Silchar Chamber of Commerce. Tourists interested in picturesque and scenic sights can be taken to Coax Bazar and Sundarban areas. For this, direct train and bus services should be revived between the two countries. They also want to have trucks taken direct from here with their goods to Sylhet. It was pointed out that there are 35 border check posts along Indo-Bangladesh border. But, the problems for entry through Sutarkandi and Jakiganj are rather complex which have to be sorted out.