The Netherlands government will soon start lobbying international clothing retailers and brands to raise funds for Rana Plaza victims, as disbursement of compensation is being delayed for a dearth of funds, a Dutch minister said yesterday.
“I will meet officials of retailers, Accord, the EU and other stakeholders in the coming weeks for realising funds for the victims,” said Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen at a press conference at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in Dhaka.
So far, only nine retailers and brands paid $17 million against a target of $40 million for Rana Plaza Trust Fund and many are yet to fulfil their commitment.
A total of 29 retailers and brands used to source garment items from five factories housed in the Rana Plaza building.
As most retailers and brands are delaying compensation, IndustriALL Bangladesh Council sent letters to the US, Canada, Japan, Australia and the EU authorities seeking donations for the victims.
The positive developments that took place after the Rana Plaza collapse have been eclipsed by the delay in disbursement of compensation, Ploumen said.
“We think the victims need to be compensated as decided.”
Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, Dutch envoy to Bangladesh Gerben de Jong and Senior Commerce Secretary Mahbub Ahmed were also present at the joint press conference.
The Dutch minister said: “Many initiatives were taken in the last one year but those will have to be sustainable.”
Ploumen also said all export-oriented garment factories must be inspected and the public database on apparel units should be transparent and contain more details.
She also called upon the government to complete recruiting 200 factory inspectors soon.
Tofail Ahmed said around 1,500 factories have already been inspected. “Only 19 of these factories have been referred to a review panel; the number is below the global average of 2 percent.”
Ahmed said they have already recruited 25 factory inspectors and the rest will be employed soon on a priority basis.
The minister also said the government has already removed tariffs on the import of fire and structural safety equipment.
A consultative meeting was also held in the morning on improving and monitoring measures related to safe and dignified working conditions in the garment sector.
British High Commissioner Robert Gibson, Australian High Commissioner Greg Wilcock and Deputy Chief of Mission of the US embassy in Dhaka Jon Danilowicz were present.
The consultative meeting reaffirmed the collective determination of Bangladesh and the Netherlands to work together in improving the working conditions.
An agreement was also signed to introduce sexual and reproductive health and rights in the value chain of several apparel factories through an inclusive business approach, involving trade unions, consumers, brands and buying houses.