The suspension of share trading on the stock exchanges due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country continues to cause huge losses to the brokerage houses.
Stockbrokers said that the houses were counting more than Tk2 crore in losses every day due to the complete closure of business operations.
Therefore, most of the houses could not yet clear April salary payments to their employees. Meantime, though some houses cleared the salaries, they will not give Eid bonus while many brokerage houses have adopted pay-cut policy.
For instance, Treasure Securities Ltd and Sterling Stocks and Securities Ltd paid March salaries and the employees of the two different brokerage houses are yet to get April payments.
"I am not aware of the salary issue," said Abdus Salam Murshedy, chairman of Treasure Securities. Sterling Stocks and Securities Chairman Siddiqur Rahman also said he did not know about the matter.
Both Murshedy and Siddiqur — two garment manufacturers association president — said they would clear the payments soon if there were any dues at their respective securities houses.
Usually the brokerage houses pay the salaries within the first week of a month.
Among the 384 active brokerage houses at Dhaka and Chittagong stock exchanges, most of the houses set up as associations of banks and financial institutions have cleared the salaries.
Most of the individually-owned houses failed to pay salaries while some have adopted 20 to 40 percent salary-cut.
However, no house has fired any employee so far owing to the share trading suspension.
In condition of anonymity, a brokerage house official told The Business Standard, "I got the March salary late, and had to come to my village home as I did not get April payment."
"I will have to pay house rent for two months while my April salary is uncertain. I am in serious problem with the job," he added.
Dhaka Stock Exchange Director Rakibur Rahman said he cleared April salary of his own brokerage house.
He told The Business Standard, "Brokerage houses as subsidiaries of giant corporate companies can manage even if there is no income. But currently most of the small houses are unable to survive the crisis."
Rakibur said they urged the government for at least six months' working capital with flexible conditions. The brokerages also proposed it to the central bank.
DSE Brokers Association President Sharif Anwar Hossain told The Business Standard that clearing salaries was a challenge as none knew how long this pandemic would continue.
The association sought supports from the government so that the losses of the brokerage houses could be minimized, Sharif said.
Industry people too said the firms need concessional loans to keep the brokerage teams afloat in addition to regular salaries.
Trading on both the bourses remained closed since March 26 following general holidays announced by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Later, the closure of trading was extended till May 16 following the extension of the holidays.
This year, the stock market indices were already going through extreme volatility because of a slowdown in exports, concerns over the health of the banking sector, and a turbulent money market.
The novel coronavirus outbreak added to all existing worries in the stock market and triggered a free fall in the last trading period.
The DSEX, the benchmark index of the Dhaka bourse, suffered a 20 percent fall until March 18, but later recovered partially with a 10 percent gain due to the new floor prices.
Before the nationwide shutdown was imposed, the DSEX stood at 4,008 points on March 25.