Parliamentary caucus demanded for RMG | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, August 04, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, August 04, 2009

Parliamentary caucus demanded for RMG

BGMEA holds emergency meeting with MPs amid recession impact

Abdus Salam Murshedy, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, speaks at an emergency meeting with members of parliament, who are also garment entrepreneurs, at the BGMEA office in Dhaka yesterday. Other RMG businessmen were also present. Photo: STAR

Apparel manufacturers and exporters yesterday urged the government to form a parliamentary caucus on readymade garment (RMG), which will negotiate with the government for fixing up different problems prevailing in the garment sector.
The businesspeople said problems like non-payment of stimulus package by the government, frequent power outages, less gas pressure, deteriorated law and order situation, labour unrest, higher bank interest rate and dearth of skilled manpower are gripping the RMG sector.
Leaders of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), RMG entrepreneurs, and lawmakers who are also the owners of garment factories demanded the formation of the caucus at an emergency meeting at BGMEA office.
The businesspeople said the situation of the country's main export earning RMG sector has turned worst due to the recession, but the government is not paying any heed to the needs of the sector.
No new investment would be made next year due to the existing power and gas crises in the industrial units, said Annisul Huq, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI).
He said around Tk 30,000 crore remains idle in the banking system, and capital machinery import has declined as the businessmen are not going for new investment amid these crises.
"It was necessary for the government to consult the businessmen before taking the decision of not giving any new gas connection to the industrial units," said Huq, also a former BGMEA president.
"We should commission a study by a group of professionals who have the credibility to survey the impacts of power failure and declining profitability in the RMG sector," said Salman F Rahman, vice-chairman of Beximco Group, which has RMG business.
The government will take seriously the findings and suggestions of the group of professionals, Rahman said.
Rahman, also the adviser to Awami League President Sheikh Hasina on private sector development, said the government did not give proper attention to the recent arson attack on Ha-Meem Group.
The issue should have been discussed in the parliament, he said.
He said the most serious concern now is the declining profitability of the RMG sector. "But what is the government doing?" Rahman questioned.
"BGMEA should form even seven task forces to negotiate with seven ministries for realising different demands of the RMG sector," he said.
He said 90 percent incidents of labour unrest were staged by the outsiders, not by the real RMG workers.
Denouncing the 'irresponsible' comments of some former and incumbent ministers on the life style of the businessmen, Tipu Munshi, a lawmaker and former president of BGMEA, said the government could not solve the old problems, but currently favouring formation of the trade unions.
"The irresponsible roles of the trade unions will create further problems in the RMG sector," Munshi said.
He said the decision of gas price hike was not pro-industrial as the time for business is not good now.
Zahurul Haque Mohon, a lawmaker and RMG entrepreneur, blamed the communication gap with the government for the existing problems. "We need to place our demands to the government specifically, otherwise the problems will not be solved," Mohon said.
Shahriar Alam MP said: "My personal experience about trade union is not satisfactory at all."
Mostafa Gulam Quddus, chairman of Dragon Group, a leading sweater maker, said the RMG entrepreneurs are exhausted with the frequent labour unrest, arson incidents and other anti-business activities.
Quazi Moniruzzaman, a former BGMEA president, urged all to look into the domestic and international RMG markets.
AK Azad, managing director of Ha-Meem Group, said when the new government pay scale will be announced, another labour unrest will take place.

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