Contribution of the Coalition

Confidence-building: Confidence-building was a key outcome of the coalition’s joint discussions with leather sector representatives and the government, as each party came to recognize the sincerity and dedication of the other, and were able to create a working relationship. The coalition was also involved in providing technical and research-based assistance to the leather associations, so that they could voice their concerns more effectively, and with adequate evidence. Regional experiences from neighboring countries were also studied and brought to the attention of policymakers to help clarify best practices for projects of this nature.

Acceptance of the cost-sharing model: Because of policy advocacy work of the coalition, the relocation project has received the attention of several senior policymakers since 2013, including the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Finance. Sustained efforts, knowledge sharing, and close interactions between the coalition and other stakeholders led to the Ministry of Finance organizing a meeting to discuss the relocation project on 14 May 2013. During the meeting, the government agreed to bear the entire cost of the CETP, and 80% of the total project cost estimated as BDT 1078 crore. Additionally, the Government agreed to allocate BDT 250 crore for compensation to the leather factories. Strongly backed by the Minister of Finance and the local Member of Parliament, these decisions were reviewed and accepted by the ECNEC and the Prime Minister’s Office in August 2013.

In resolving these binding constraints of compensation and CETP financing issues, the coalition had maintained relentless liaison with all the relevant parties, BSCIC, Ministry of Industry and Ministry of Finance on one side, and BTA & BFLLFEA on the other side. The coalition insistently participated in frequent meetings with all the relevant stakeholders to speed up the process of MoU signing. Additionally, the coalition also organized several back-to-back meetings, roundtable discussions and seminars with leather sector entrepreneurs and government representatives during September and October in this regard.

Signing of the MoU: In consequence of relentless efforts of the coalition, all the relevant stakeholders reached to a consensus regarding CETP funding, compensation for production losses, and several other important issues. As a result, the opportune moment came for the three parties (BSCIC, BTA and BFLLFEA) to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) regarding the relocation. Finally, the coalition facilitated the grand event for MoU signing at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in 13 October 2013.

After the signing of the MoU, the coalition continued working on several rising issues to smoothen the actual relocation of tanneries. After the MoU is signed, the coalition continued to work on the following issues.

Monitoring of CETP construction: The coalition ensured persistent oversight of the construction of the CETP by persuading BSCIC and Ministry of Industry to incorporate experts from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in an official monitoring role, to assure both the government and the leather sector stakeholders of the quality of the facility. The appointment of BUET as consultant to BSCIC has quickened the review and approval of the drawing-design of the CETP that will eventually smoothen the CETP construction process by quickest possible time.

Compensation issue: representatives from the coalition regularly participated in meetings of the compensation review committee, organized by the Ministry of Industry, to ensure that an acceptable and transparent mechanism is developed for distributing the total compensation package to the individual leather firms. In addition, there was also an appeal to the Ministry of Industry to incorporate an expert from the coalition to the ministerial sub-committee on compensation package. Of late, the Ministry of Industry has approved the incorporation of an expert from the coalition to the ministerial sub-committee on compensation package to contribute in preparing the guideline for distribution of compensation.

Financial issues: the coalition is also pushing the central bank to guide other commercial banks to reschedule existing loans of tanneries at a subsidized interest rate, and provide new loans to the tannery owners at a minimally possible interest rate with a grace period of few years in the face of relocation. Furthermore, the coalition is also communicating with international development partners to arrange a fund that would provide loans to tannery entrepreneurs at a lower interest rate.

Layout plan submission and approval: the coalition has been relentlessly encouraging leather sector entrepreneurs to submit their layout plan of construction in the tannery estate. Simultaneously, the coalition has also been encouraging BSCIC to approve submitted layout plans so that the actual construction, eventually the relocation, can be initiated as soon as possible.