Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – At a pre budget discussion with the National Board of Revenue (NBR), various trade bodies associated with the Bangladesh garment sector export industry put forth various demands.
These included, reducing corporate tax to 10 percent from existing 20 percent and also exempting the apparel industry from tax at source for a minimum period of two years, reports fibre2fashion.com.
Other demands made by various trade bodies were to allow import of pre-fabricated building material under bonded facility at zero duty to ensure workplace safety.
They also demanded duty free import of sprinkler systems, equipment, fire-resistant doors, etc for safety compliance measures.
There was also a request that the policy for the apparel industry should be fixed for a five year period, as changes in policy, every year created problems for the industry.
Representatives from various associations like Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), among others attended the meeting.
Bangladesh’s garment manufacturing industry is in crisis. Still in the shadow of the Rana Plaza disaster, the industry hit the headlines again in December after the authorities took a hard-line approach to workers and trade union officials who were protesting against low pay and poor working conditions.
The arrests had a ripple effect, leading to a cacophony of complaints from around the world in the weeks that followed.
The Rana Plaza complex housed five factories supplying global brands at the time the building collapsed in April 2013, killing 1,135 workers.
BGMEA vice-president Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu asserted that factory owners are no less keen to avoid another Rana Plaza incident than anyone else: “It’s a nightmare for us,” he said, adding that the sector’s main priority now is the completion of factory building remediation, scheduled for June next year.
Bangladesh is already the world’s second-largest exporter of clothing and has ambitious plans for further growth, but the long-term success of the industry hangs on gaining realistic prices for its goods and the fair treatment of its workers.
While stakeholders clearly recognised the need for reform at the summit, only time will tell if those highly emotive pledges translate into lasting change.
Bangladesh’s position as the world’s second largest readymade garment exporter continues to hold strong.
The latest figure shows that the garment industry in Bangladesh generated USD 28.09 billion in exports in the fiscal year 2015-16 with a 10.21% growth from the previous year.
The growth was mainly attributed to political calmness during the year, increased productivity, entrepreneurs’ resilience and improvement of workers’ safety standards in factories.
Readymade garments exported from Bangladesh currently represent around 6% of the global clothing market. Bangladesh surpassed India to become the world’s second largest exporter in 2003.
It is expected that Bangladesh will continue to strengthen its position as the world’s leading readymade garment exporting country in near future.