Baishakhi business spurs inclusive growth

Dhaka,  Sat,  23 September 2017
Published : 14 Apr 2017, 00:27:10
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Baishakhi business spurs inclusive growth

Guesstimates suggest turnover to be Tk 60-75b
Asjadul Kibria


Businesses have witnessed robust sales as people are preparing to celebrate the occasion of Pahela Baishakh today (Friday).

In fact, the Bengali New Year day has by now become the second largest festival in Bangladesh after Eid-ul Fitr, in terms of business turnover, when consumer spending jumps.

Following introduction of the Baishakhi festival bonus for the government employees, the spending intensified and this time it was not an exception too - the people took preparation amid spending spree to welcome the new Bengali year 1424.

Guesstimates suggest that the Baishakhi festival would be a market of Tk 60-75 billion as the businesses from posh fashion houses to marginal women entrepreneurs were getting their share of the market.   

The trend of money supply in the previous years, however, backs the guesstimate to some extent. According to Bangladesh Bank data, net money supply in April, 2016 was Tk 82.30 billion while it was Tk 38.06 billion in April, 2015.

While political disturbance in the form of hartals and blockades slows down the economic activities in the first quarter of 2015, the past year was very vibrant without any disruption. The scenario has also been reflected in the money supply trend.

The money supply data for this month would, however, be available in next month.

Dr Biru Pakhsa Paul, former chief economist of Bangladesh Bank, termed the Baishakhi business boom as a stimulator to rural economy.

"Thousands of small and cottage industries from across the country are benefiting from the festival," he told the FE. "A good number of people are producing and selling indigenous products like handicrafts, pottery, toys and dolls. In this way they are earning some money."

Dr Paul was of the view that the economy of Pahela Baishakh has created an opportunity to boost the efforts towards inclusive growth.

"No doubt, the festival is universal and its economic activities include even the marginal people," he added.

He did not also rule out the guesstimate of economic activities worth Tk 70 billion, but emphasised on conducting some research to assess the economic value of Baishakh. It would facilitate providing some policy supports, he added.

In this connection, he suggested the central bank to initiate some refinancing scheme for the small and cottage industries and rural vendors. Such short-term easy loan would help them solve the problems related to capital, he added.   

According to the Fashion Entrepreneurs Association of Bangladesh (FEAB), the country's fashion and boutique houses avail around 20 per cent of their annual sales during the Pahela Baishakh while 50 per cent during the Eid-ul-Fitr.

FEAB estimates their Baishakhi sales target at around Tk 18 billion for this year, which was Tk 15 billion last year. By adding the sales of unorganised small boutique and clothing house across the country, this year's total sales may range between Tk 20 billion and Tk 22 billion.

It was also estimated that the home-made clothing and attires account for around 35 per cent of the total Baishakhi spending.

To celebrate the occasion, the people love to spend approximately 30 per cent of their Baishakhi budget on cuisine and sweets. Restaurants offered attractive packages for the consumers while the traditional 'halkhata' spurring sales at the sweet shops.  

The corporate houses wished their clients and well wishers with sweets and gifts, which largely contributed to boost sales.   

Handicrafts, pottery and indigenous ornaments allure mainly women during the festival. Baishakhi fairs across the country witness brisk business of these three things along with other traditional stuffs.

"It is a good opportunity for women who run small enterprises and business as they can participate in these fairs to display and sell their goods," said Ms Mousumi Islam, president of Association of Grassroots Women Entrepreneurs, Bangladesh (AGWEB).

According to an estimate, around 15 per cent of the Baishakhi budget is spent on handicrafts, pottery and ornaments, including gold, imitation and indigenous ones.   

Ms Mousumi said many of the small women entrepreneurs received sub-contracts from the large and medium fashion houses and shops to manufacture or add value to manufactured products in this season.

The AGWEB chief, however, urged the government to extend some planned support for these women entrepreneurs by organising week-long fairs in different upazilas or even at union levels and by providing low-cost loan facility.   

Expenditure on travel and outings are also large along with gifts and entertainment. All these account for the 20 per cent of the Baishakhi budget.

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