The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association is set to get a fresh batch of leaders next year but like last time there will not be an election to select them -- as per the wishes of a section of influential businessmen.
Usually, the general members of the BGMEA vote to elect the leaders of the garment sector's apex trade body for a two-year tenure.
But, in 2015, no election took place, after the two panels --- Sammilito Parishad and Forum -- had announced their nominees. But later, the Forum nominees pulled out, leaving the Sammilito Parishad's presidential candidate victorious by default. Over the last few years, a section of influential businessmen have taken to deciding the executive committee of the apex trade body of the country's main export earner, doing away with the long-practiced democratic process.
Since the Sammilito Parishad prevailed last time, it is now Forum's turn to preside over the trade body.
“There is no possibility of holding the formal election as we have already reached consensus to select the next president,” said Anwar ul Alam Chowdhury Parvez, the leader of the Forum panel.
If everything goes to plan, Shahidul Islam, managing director of Rupa Group and a former vice-president of the BGMEA, will be formally announced on March 7 next year as the BGMEA president for the next two years, Parvez said.
But, as per the election schedule announced by the BGMEA on December 18, the panels will nominate their candidates on December 30 and the withdrawal date of candidature is January 6 next year.
The board will declare the candidates on January 7 next year and the election is scheduled to be held on March 7.
The voters are supposed to elect 35 directors, from whom one president and seven vice-presidents would be chosen.
Faruque Hassan, a leader from the Sammilito Parishad and current vice-president of the BGMEA, said he is scheduled to compete in the election from his panel as his name was declared earlier.
“Still, I hope an election will be held where both the panels will present their candidates and the general voters will elect their leaders,” he added.
Siddiqur Rahman, the current BGMEA president, said: “I heard that leaders from both the panels held a meeting to select the next leaders for the BGMEA.”
Islam said all the electoral procedures were followed in his selection.
“Both Sammilito Parishad and Forum leaders have agreed to select me,” he added.
Islam clinched the presidential nomination from the Forum panel over Mahmud Hasan Khan (Babu), a current vice-president of BGMEA.
“I do not have any grievance for not being selected as the leaders of the both panels unanimously chose Islam,” Babu told The Daily Star by phone.
Asked about the high possibility of no election this time, Babu said it was decided previously that there will not be any election for two terms, including the current one.
He went on to give examples of other trade bodies that selected their leaders by consensus and not by ballot vote: the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Bangladesh Employers Federation.