About 300 lockers sold monthly at Malitola
Zahid Hossain Biplob: Due to repeated drive at different houses, clubs and bars in the city, the law enforcement agencies found the existence of many lockers and volts which is full of huge ill gotten resources.
Volt makers said, they were habituated to make such secured hidden position for the traditional gold businessmen to keep their legal or illegal resources, but now, the ordinary house holders are making such volts for keeping their resources.
The demand for making such safety volts or lockers are increasing gradually due to keep the ill gotten money, gold and savings instruments of a section of people who earned huge illegal resources by unethical way including corruption, bribery and so on.
The locker businesses at capital’s Malitola, the main business hub of the item while contacted said “The sale and use of private lockers, safety vaults or security safe boxes steadily increased in recent times both for legal and illegal transactions.”
Steel Furniture Malik Samity general secretary Omar Faruk said that between 250 to 300 lockers were sold at Malitola each month.
Meanwhile, demand for lockers imported from India, China and Thailand are growing though they carry over 50 per cent import duty.
At least six business houses import lockers in Bangladesh.
Of the imported lockers, the Indian brand Godrej is popular with prices varying from Tk 8,000 to Tk 130,000, according Shafiqul Islam, managing director of the Shabnaj Steel King.
He also said they are now importing fire resistant digitally operated lockers.
Monir Hossain Shikder, owner of Bappi Steel Trading, said that imported lockers carried 52 per cent import duty.
He said that lockers were imported paying high duty as their demand was growing.
Besides, think merchants said the demand for lockers was pushed up by massive expansion in businesses including banking, jewellery, apparel manufacturing, luxury hotels and resorts and shop keeping.
But economists were less optimistic and they attributed lockers becoming an item for fast sales due to boom in undisclosed and untaxed money.
They think the facilities in place for legalizing untaxed money, corruption in public procurements, extortions and running illegal casinos and gambling dens also contributed to the unusually high demand for lockers.
During recent drives in the capital, the Rapid Action Battalion seized massive caches of cash and gold ornaments stacked away in lockers by the ruling party’s youth front leaders.
Former Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies director general MK Mujeri told Daily Industry that the crackdown on illegal casinos exposed how rapidly the underworld economy grew in this country.
Obviously, as banks were not a safe option to keep money earned illegally the sudden wealthy are preferring lockers as a safe option before siphoning it to safer foreign destinations, he said.
According to a paper released by the ministry of finance in 2013, Bangladesh’s underground economy was equal to 7 per cent of the nominal GDP in 1973, but it phenomenally grew to 62.75 per cent of the GDP in 2010.
Policy Research Institute executive director Ahsan H Mansur called high growth in sales of lockers as a bad symptom for a country like Bangladesh, indicating that people felt insecure to keep money in banks.
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The Locker market was valued at million US dollar in 2018 and is projected to reach million US$ by 2024, at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 4.5pc of during the forecast period. In this study, 2018 has been considered as the base year and 2019 to 2024 as the forecast period to estimate the market size for Locker.
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In fact, lockers became the main product of the capital’s steel furniture industry at Malitola, replacing almirahs, once this industry’s cash cow, said Suman.