Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Minister for Civil Aviation and Tourism Muhammad Faruk Khan on Sunday expressed his optimism that the United States would withdraw its decision to suspend GSP facility on Bangladeshi products within six months.
“We are concerned over the US suspension on Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) facility on Bangladesh. The US move created problem instead of help. We hope we would get back the GSP facility within six months,” he said while addressing as the chief guest at a roundtable conference on “Garments sector of Bangladesh: prospect, problems, challenges and way out” in the capital Dhaka.
The minister emphasised the need for resolving the existing problems faced by the garments sector by taking a coordinated effort.
He said the government has formed a cabinet committee led by the Minister for Textile to look after the problems in the garments sector and make recommendations to resolve those.
Mr. Khan said the government during its four and half-a-year in power increased the wage of garments workers up to 82 percent. “The government is now planning to increase their wage again,”
The minister called upon the garments workers to be cautious so that they are not used to damage country’s asset.
Organised by the Shippers’ Council of Bangladesh (SCB) the roundtable discussion was held at the Conference Hall of the Daily Star.
Dr Khondaker Golam Moazzem, additional research director of Centre for Policy Dialogue made a power point presentation on “Garments Sector of Bangladesh : prospect, problems, challenges & way out”
Moderated by Dr. Salehuddin Ahmed, Managing Editor of The Daily Star, the Round Table was also addressed, among others, by Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA, Prof Abdul Mannan, adviser, Board of Trustees, ULAB, Farid Ahmed Chowdhury, former president of CCCI, DR Naznin Ahmed, senior researcher fellow of BIDS, Ashif Ibrahim, Dr MM Akash, Dr Tuhin Malik, Badiul Alam Majumder, Md Rezaul Karim, senior vice president of SCB, Shirin Sultana, workers’ leader and Nazma Akhter, a garments worker.
BGMEA president Atiqul Islam said the garments industry in Bangladesh now is under threat as the buyers have been shifting to other countries and competitor countries creating infrastructure for their garments industry.
He called upon the government to provide land for shifting the risky garments factories.
When the interest rate of the banks is about 18 to 19 per cent and the cost of land is very high, how the garments factories con be shifted without the help of government, he questioned.
Referring to the contribution of the RMG sector in different service sector including, bank, insurance, transport and housing, he said all should come forward to assist the garments industry.
The BGMEA leader said they would welcome trade unions in the garments sector if it is formed lawfully and work in a constructive manner.
Regarding GSP suspension by the US, he said the country is the victim of conspiracy.
He hoped that the RMG sector would be able to reach the business from the current US$ 20 billion to $ 50 billion by 2021.
In his keynote presentation, Khondaker Golam Moazzem said social compliance in the garments sector has improved but the physical compliance has not improved at that rate.
There are enough laws and rules to ensure facility of the garments workers but those are not implemented, he added.
He emphasised the need for improving the standard of labour saying that there is no alternative to it for development.
Dr. Moazzem said though there are many endeavours in the garments sector there is lack of coordination.
Professor Abdul Mannan said incidents also took place in the developed countries but they tried to take lesson from those but Bangladesh did not.
Farid Ahmed Chowdhury said if the trade union engages in destructive activities the garments industry won’t sustain for two years and a month.
Naznin Ahmed said this is the right time to negotiate with buyers to ensure welfare of the garments workers.
Nasiruddin Ahmed Chowdhury, Chairman of SCB, who delivered the address of welcome, said Bangladesh will be turned into a middle income country mostly depending on the contribution of garments sector.
The garments sector has a huge contribution in export earning, employment generation and empowerment of women, he said.
The SCB leader said some people dream that Bangladesh, the second largest garments export, would obtain the first position in near future.
Rezaul Karim, Senior Vice Chairman, Shippers’ Council of Bangladesh offered vote of thanks at the round table conference.
BBN/SSR/AD-07July13-7:48 pm (BST)