According to the paper mills, 15,000 tons of paper would be required to print election campaign materials in the run up to the general election scheduled for December 30
Despite expecting an order of an additional 25,000 tons of paper because of the upcoming 11th parliamentary election, paper traders have so far been able to secure orders of 7,000 tons only.
Paper traders said, since opposition parties were not being allowed to campaign properly, orders for posters were low.
Seeking anonymity, one paper trader in old Dhaka said one of his customers was unable to get any posters printed since he is an opposition party candidate.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Abu Taiub, owner of Mohammadia paper store in old Dhaka’s Noyabazar, said they are getting a poor market response compared to the 2008 elections.
“This year our sales have increased by only 20%, compared to 50% in 2008,” he added.
Iqbal Hossain, owner of Siam paper house from the same area also expressed similar concerns about his business, explaining they had better business during the city corporation elections.
“We are very concerned that despite the national elections being very close, we are getting very few orders,” he added.
Iqbal also pointed out there are no posters of the main opposition party in the Arambagh and Fakirapool area, meaning the opposition party has either decided not to print posters or are not being allowed to do so.
Claiming a decline in the sale of paper this year, Fazlur Rahman, president of the Bangladesh Paper Merchants' Association, said: “People have started laminating their posters to prevent them from being spoiled by the rain.”
He added that about 15 to 20,000 tons of paper are required to print election campaign materials. Bangladesh's mills have the capacity to produce 1.5-1.7 million tons of paper annually, he added.
According to the paper mills, 15,000 tons of paper would be required to print election campaign materials in the run up to the general election scheduled for December 30.
A senior Partex Paper Mill official said the Election Commission will need about 6,000 tons of paper to print ballot papers and other documents. He added there will be no shortage of paper this year.
“We are ready to meet the extra demand brought by the election,” he added.
Printing ink traders echoed the concerns of paper traders.
Faisal Ahmed, shopkeeper at Solaiman Printing Accessories, also said they had a better market response during local government elections. “If all candidates were to print their election campaign materials like in the local government election, our business might have gotten a boost,” Faisal said.
Alliances require less posters
In the 2008 elections, political parties participated in the election with their own separate symbols and there was more than one candidate for each constituency, leading to more posters being printed.
This time around, only a few major parties are participating in the election. All candidates of the Awami League-led 14-party alliance are campaigning with the symbol of boat, while those of the BNP-led 20-party alliance are campaigning with the sheaf of paddy symbol.
This has resulted in fewer candidates for each constituency, leading to a drop in the production of posters and other campaign materials, business people said.