ONE of the sticking points for readymade garments (RMG) industry has been the huge cost of installing safety equipment. The issue of worker safety came to the forefront in the immediate aftermath of a number of devastating incidents like the fire at the Tazreen factory that killed scores of people. Workplace safety has also been a major issue of contention between Bangladesh and the various associations of US and EU buyers.
Now that we know the government intends to slash duties drastically by nearly 90 per cent, it should pave the way for factories to install much needed equipment that can and will make the difference between life and death for many workers.
The industry for its part has been clamouring for a lowering of the duty structure that affects the pricing on items like sprinklers and fire doors. Sprinklers for one are an absolute essential item that can put fires out quickly and effectively. Its incorporation has been recommended by factory inspection teams and with retail pricing to come down substantially as soon as changes to the duty structure are effected, we should see large scale retrofitting to commence across the thousands of factories in the country.
Although BGMEA had asked for a zero-duty facility for import of such equipment, we believe the current move should go a long way in addressing countermeasures that must be installed to deter a rerun of the incident on the scale of Tazreen Fashion.