Readymade garment (RMG) makers yesterday sought soft loan facilities from the government to provide regular wages and bonuses for their workers in the current what they said dull season.
"As around 35 to 40 percent capacity of most of the garment industries remained unutilised during the last six months, it would be a burden for the owners of apparel factories to pay two festival bonuses in the coming three months," Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told a press conference at the BGMEA office in Dhaka.
The association directors were present there.
Responding to a query, Parvez said all but 132 BGMEA members complied with paying minimum wages to their workers until August 31, 2007. The chief of the apex trade body in the RMG sector expressed his hope that all members will soon start giving the wages fixed by the RMG Minimum Wage Board to their workers.
Meanwhile, the BGMEA leader projected an order spree from buyers in the coming months, although they had faced a six-month (January-June, 2007) dull season.
"I am optimistic that we can achieve one billion dollar export earning mark in a single month in November," Parvez said with conviction.
He said although a good number of reputed apparel buyers shifted their autumn bulk orders to Vietnam, Cambodia and China during the last three months (October-December) of the year 2006 due to political instability, some of them have now looked back to Bangladesh for comparatively low-cost products.
The BGMEA president attributed the dull season for the sector to short winter in Europe and US and shaky consuming practice for high oil prices.
Parvez informed the reporters that due to the dull order spree during the last three quarters of two fiscals, most of the garment makers faced a 35 percent less output.
He, however, demanded establishment of a separate ministry for readymade garments to ease business because the apparel makers now have to depend on various ministries for a single purpose.
Parvez urged the government to declare the RMG sector as thrust sector for developing infrastructure under a one-stop window to cater to the growing need of the industry.
He said if the government and other stakeholders co-operate each other in developing the sector, it will able to fetch US$ 50 billion annually from exports with employment of around 10 million people within the next 10 years.
He said the size of the global apparel industry is $500 billion with a 12 percent growth.