12:00 AM, April 14, 2014 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:53 AM, March 08, 2015

Govt again fails to meet GSP conditions

Govt again fails to meet GSP conditions

Refayet Ullah Mirdha

The country has once again failed to fulfil the required conditions for reinstatement of GSP status to the US markets within the deadline of April 15, mainly due to bureaucratic tangles.
The commerce ministry is now set to submit a report which does not contain any account of substantial progress with respect to the 16-point action plan provided by the US for regaining the generalised system of preferences.
This is the second time that the government has failed to make an impression on the Obama administration. The first progress report submitted in November last year disappointed the US so much that the second deadline of April 15 was set, a month ahead of Obama Administration's review of the suspension decision.
One of the major conditions was to recruit additional 200 factory inspectors by this deadline, but, so far, the labour and employment ministry has taken only 25 first-class inspectors through the Public Service Commission (PSC).
The delay in meeting the recruitment quota, Mikail Shipar, secretary to ministry of labour and employment, says is due to the need to amend the PSC rules to recruit manpower for non-cadre posts.
When asked how the 25 inspectors were recruited without amending the PSC rules, he said: “The ministry gets 50 percent quota. If I want to recruit 200 inspectors I need 80 percent quota. So we need to amend the PSC rules for recruitment of non-cadre posts.”  
Mahbub Ahmed, senior secretary of the commerce ministry, could not be reached despite several attempts by phone.
Another major condition was to amend the laws of the export processing zones (EPZs) to allow the workers of such special economic zones the right to demonstrate to realise their demands.

So far, a committee has been formed comprising the senior secretaries for amending the laws of the EPZs, according to the progress report.
The government also could not nab the killers of labour leader Aminul Islam, a major condition for GSP reinstatement.
It is yet to formulate the rules needed to implement the amended labour law in factories, nine months after the amendment was passed.
Among the conditions, the labour and employment ministry could inaugurate the database of garment factories on March 30 and withdraw cases against labour leaders Babul Akter and Kalpona Akter.
The government has also relaxed the trade union rules and registered 127 new trade unions in 2013 in the garment sector. The government also re-registered two NGOs -- Bangladesh Centre for Worker Solidarity and Social Activities for the Environment.
The US government suspended the GSP status on June 27 last year citing serious shortcomings in labour rights and workplace safety.
Only 0.54 percent of the country's total exports to the US could take up the benefits of the GSP.
The commerce ministry in its working paper said other countries like the EU might be influenced by the decision of the US, for which the country's export will face troubles.


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