An Eid cattle market in the capital is a massively profitable business. Put up Tk1 crore at any of the two city corporations to lease a haat, and you can make Tk10-12 crore in three days.
The 22 temporary cattle markets that open before Eid-ul-Azha are all on the city corporations’ land. Although the haats are meant to be leased out through an open bidding process, the Dhaka Tribune has found that only a handful of people, either ward councillors of the Dhaka south and north city corporations or local ruling party leaders get the leases every year.
On top of that, people involved in the cattle trade say the city corporations could be making much more money from the haats but instead they take a policy that maximises the profits of the lease-holders at the expense of taxpayers.
To meet the demands for sacrificial animals in Eid-ul-Azha, apart from the permanent cattle market in Gabtoli, 22 other markets or haats will be set up in the city, nine in Dhaka North and 13 in Dhaka South.
Awami League leaders and leaders of Awami League affiliated bodies such as Jubo League, Chhatra League or Swechchhasebak League are getting the leases - if not in their own names, then in the name of their family members or friends
A bargain price
The city corporations leased out the haats last year for a total of Tk9.46 crore.
This year, DSCC has almost finalised the leasing. It has already leased out 12 haats for Tk8.75 crore, officials say. Most of the DSCC cattle markets have been leased out for less than the targeted rate. The haat at Sadek Hossain Khoka playground has not been leased out yet as bidders are offering prices that are too low.
This year the DSCC and DNCC aimed to earn around Tk23 crore from leasing the haats.
Sources say the officials set initial bids too low, not taking market prices into consideration, for the benefit of the prospective bidders.
The DSCC asked for Tk4.86 crore for the haat in Armanitola, and in return got a bid of Tk1.33 crore.
Cattle traders say the average price for an animal in last year’s haats was about Tk40,000. According to official sources around 500,000 cattle were sold last year in the haats, which means buyers spent about Tk2,000 crore.
As per the city corporation’s regulations, the lease-holders collect a 5% hasil (purchase tax) on each animal. So according to this estimate, they made Tk100 crore from the buyers alone, on top of the payment they take from cattle traders.
Price of a cattle will be higher this year, therefore it is likely that the profits of the lease-holders will be even higher.
A meat trader seeking anonymity said: “The city corporation officials either do not know math or are involved in corruption. Otherwise how are they asking for only Tk23 crore from the haats? These people will earn at least Tk100cr.”
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Photo: Rajib Dhar
Who gets the leases?
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune a number of city corporation officials said Awami League leaders and leaders of Awami League affiliated bodies such as Jubo League, Chhatra League or Swechchhasebak League are getting the leases - if not in their own names, then in the name of their family members or friends.
In the DSCC area, Ward 3 AL leader Muhammad Sharif got the Meradia Bazar cattle market in Khilgaon, Ward 11 AL President Abdul Latif got the Shahjahanpur Moitri Shangha ground, local AL leader Wahidur Rahman Wakib got the Jigatala-Hajaribagh cattle market, local AL activist Mohammad Shaheed Uddin got the Gopibagh cattle market.
Dhaka City Awami League Dhaka South unit leaderHazi Shafi Mahmud got the Rahmatganj Playground cattle market, local AL General Secretary Abul Hossain Sarkar got the Kamrangirchar Chairmanbari cattle market, Shyampur unit AL leader Moin Uddin Chishti got the cattle market near Postogola Shashanghat.
In the DNCC area, Khilkhet AL President Hazi Mohammad Keramot Ali Dewan got the cattle market on Khilkhet 300-feet road and Bashundhara residential area, former Chattra League leader Abdur Rahman Rubel got the Badda-Aftabnagar cattle market, local AL General Secretary Mohammad Shafiq got the cattle market at Number 1 intersection in Sector 15 of Uttara Residential Model Town, Gulshan AL leader Mojaffar Hossain got Bhatara (Sayeednagar) cattle market.
Dhaka City AL North Unit Jubo League Vice-President Md Shah Alam and Central Unit Organising Secretary Salahuddin Mahmud got the cattle market at free space of Eastern Housing in Mirpur 6, local AL leader Imran Uddin Mollah got the cattle market near Mirpur DOHS.
The lessees could not immediately be reached for comment.
When contacted, DSCC Chief State Officer Kamrul Islam told the Dhaka Tribune that they had leased out all the temporary markets after inviting tender and following all city corporation rules and regulations.
DNCC Chief Estate Officer Aminul Islam said they also maintained all the formalities, so it does not matter who got the lease.