Resolve crisis now

Resolve crisis now

Business community threatens to go for movement if political leaders do not take steps
Garment industry associations BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA organise a hunger strike in front of the BGMEA office in the capital yesterday protesting the ongoing blockade which is hurting the sector.  Photo: Amran Hossain
Garment industry associations BGMEA, BKMEA and BTMA organise a hunger strike in front of the BGMEA office in the capital yesterday protesting the ongoing blockade which is hurting the sector. Photo: Amran Hossain

Observing a seven-hour hunger strike yesterday, the business community once again urged political leaders to immediately resolve the ongoing crisis through discussions for smooth operation of businesses.

It threatened to go for a massive movement if political leaders don't take any steps to end the impasse.

“You [political leaders] please give us a business-friendly environment … don't force us to take to the streets ... please don't force us to bring the country to a standstill,” said BGMEA President Atiqul Islam, who led the protest programme in front of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association office in the capital.

If the situation doesn't improve soon, thousands of garment workers and factory owners would be on the streets to press for security of businesses, he said.

“Please sit together and decide how you will resolve the crisis and create a business-friendly environment … don't take our hunger strike lightly.”

Atiqul announced the formation of two committees headed by former BGMEA presidents Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin and Abdus Salam Murshedy.


One would decide on the business community's next course of action and liaise between business and political leaders, while the other would assess the apparel factories' loss in the current political turmoil.

Business leaders from different sectors along with members of trade unions, trade bodies and chambers took part in yesterday's hunger strike from 11:00am to 6:00pm.

The BGMEA, Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) organised the protest programme.

While the hunger strike was on, unidentified criminals exploded a crude bomb near the venue around 12:30pm. None was hurt.

Witnesses said the crude bomb was thrown from a CNG-run autorickshaw, which then sped away.

Expressing solidarity with the hunger strikers, Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), urged political leaders to resolve the crisis through understanding and cooperation.

“We want peace. Both the political parties have to solve the crisis peacefully.”

On February 8, businesspeople observed protest programmes under the FBCCI leadership across the country, demanding an end to the stalemate. But it didn't yield any results, he said.

Referring to political leaders, BTMA President Tapan Chowdhury, “Please resolve the crisis soon. I hope we will not need to plan for any fresh programme.”

More than one crore people directly and over five crore are indirectly involved in the garment sector, he said.

“If the sector is affected, the whole economy will be affected seriously. We cannot be victims of political violence,” said Tapan.

Calling upon political leaders to end the stalemate through dialogue, Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of Policy Research Institute, said violent politics is damaging the country's economic potentials.

Former BGMEA president Anwar-ul-Alam Chowdhury Parvez sought a permanent solution to the crisis.

“Without political stability, we might not achieve our target of exporting garments worth $50 billion by the end of 2021,” said Parvez.

Another ex-BGMEA president Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said, “If you don't practise healthy politics, people will get agitated one day and you [political leaders] will not be able to escape.”

Former FBCCI president AK Azad said foreign retailers are sending messages to garment makers every day with warnings of shifting work orders to other destinations.

The retailers, who are to place new orders, are cancelling trips to Bangladesh due to the ongoing political crisis, he said.

At 6:00pm, business leaders broke their fast with water offered by Dhaka University Vice Chancellor AAMS Arefin Siddique.


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