The carton manufacturers yesterday demanded direct buying rights of paper from mills as a section of unscrupulous middlemen have abnormally hiked the price of the carton paper leaving the industry of small entrepreneurs under strain.
Before March 21, the carton manufacturers purchased media carton paper from the market at Tk 27,500 a tonne. Now, they have to pay Tk 35,000, according to MA Bashar Patwary, president of the Bangladesh Local Carton Manufacturers Association.
In carton manufacturing, the corrugated paper which is used inside of the cartons is called media paper and the paper outside of the carton the liner paper.
The price of liner paper also jumped to Tk 51,000 a tonne from Tk 41,000, he said at a press conference to express concerns about the sudden abnormal hike in prices.
Although the prices of raw materials have gone up, the buyers like the pharmaceuticals and ceramic companies did not increase the prices retrospectively.
“The local carton manufacturing industry is composed of small entrepreneurs. They would not be able to absorb such a sudden price hike of raw materials.”
The average capital of the country's 2,000 local carton factories is Tk 5 crore and average employment 50 workers.
The local carton manufacturers mainly produce carton for products that are made and sold in the local markets like packaging for pharmaceuticals, ceramics, television and so on.
“Our main demand is to abolish the deployment of middlemen in the trading of paper as they hike the price abnormally by stockpiling paper.”
The middlemen are mainly appointed by the mill owners, who do not allow the carton manufacturers to purchase the paper directly from the mills.
Patwary went on to advise the customs officials to increase vigilance at paper mills as a good number of them have been evading VAT every year.
“A section of mill owners have been making money through monopoly.” The carton makers also urged the government for bringing back the previous prices as soon as possible to protect the industry and to save the jobs of 100,000 semi-skilled and unskilled workers across the country, he said.
“If the government does not take action to save our industry, we will call for a greater movement as our backs are against the wall. We are not big industry owners, we are small and our capital is also very small.”