Herat shoemakers protest, seek govt support
HERAT CITY (PAN): Owners of shoemaking firms on Wednesday staged a protest in western Herat province, asking the authorities to support domestic products and increase taxes on footwear imports.
Nearly, 200 protestors gathered in front of the governor's office, chanting "support domestic products." They claimed imported shoes, which were of low quality, sold at lower prices in the province.
The current situation had lowered demand for domestic products, forcing local shoemakers to wind up their business, one protesting factory owner told Pajhwok Afghan News. Abdul Wahab said all his 10 workers had become jobless.
The Baradaran factory owner added: "We have 40-year experience of making a variety of shoes. But Chinese and Pakistani products have immeasurably damaged our business."
Another protestor, Ghulam Sakhi, said 65 of the 200 shoemaking firms were still operational in the province. Up to 15 workers were employed by each factory, he said, accusing the government of failing to honour its commitments.
Another protestor, Khalil Ahmad, claimed producing high-quality shoes for women, selling each pair for 230 afghanis (less than $5), compared with180 afghanis that Chinese footwear cost.
Mohammad Shoaib Masumi, the governor's spokesman, said the governor had been in talks with representatives of protestors to seek a resolution to their problems.
On Jan. 13, the Association of Shoemaking Companies in Kabul warned the government of a series of protests if their demand for reviving the industry was ignored.
Mohammad Asif Jamee, head of the Kabul-based association, told a news conference there were 2,000 such companies in the country 11years ago.
But the number has dropped to 200 due to inadequate of attention from the government to leather and shoe firms. He called for imposing high taxes on imports of low-quality shoes from China and Pakistan.