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BGMEA threatens to blacklist retailers with dues

In the prolonged COVID-19 outbreak some buyers and brands have not maintained their promise with Bangladesh’s garment manufacturers. And turned away from paying their dues.

In light of this situation, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA)haves threatened to blacklist British brands for not paying dues to suppliers. BGMEA sent a letter in this regard and warned to settle dues by May 29.

BGMEA President Rubana Huq said Peacock, Jaeger, Bonmarche & Ponden Home and British billionaire Philip Day, owner of England’s Carlisle-based retailer Edinburgh Woolen Mill Limited (EWM), will be blacklisted on charge of keeping payment due and inhuman in this pandemic.

BGMEA has taken a strong stance in this matter in the interest and survival of its members, stakeholders, the international image of the apparel industry, and more prominently, compliance with local laws and foreign exchange restrictions.

The letter pointed out that in the advent of Covid-19, it has caused global economies to drop into recession and as a result, unsettling and affecting all forms of supply chain and distribution.

“We realize and acknowledge that everyone is affected by Covid-19 and therefore believe this is a time for all of us to unite and support each of our interests. It has unfortunately come to our attention that certain buyers are taking undue advantage of the Covid-19 situation and demanding unreasonable discounts, despite pre-COVID-19 contracts and continued business activity, which are not only impossible to grant by our members, but also in violation of local laws and internationally acceptable standards,” the associations said.

“We are never going to go for a confrontational relationship with anyone. And we have always been strategic,” the BGMEA president said.

“But with our businesses hanging by a thread, we need to step up and also rate and rank buyers. There is a lot of discussion on sustainability, but sourcing practices are often not syncing with sustainability concerns,” Huq told.

“For example, many buyers have not paid us but we have had their offices chasing us about salary and bonuses and whether those have been paid. This is not fair. So, we have to step up and take a stand and ensure that our terms of engagement with our buyers change for the better and that we end up with a more sustainable relationship with them,” Rubana Huq added.

She added, Bangladesh’s RMG sector is huge and we need to proceed with caution and protect our businesses and our workers.

Until the dues in this regard are settled and agreed, BGMEA will not issue any new Utilization Declarations to its members for any order of EWM, which includes all its affiliates and associates. Similarly, BEPZA may also withhold issuance of Export Processing, Huq said in the letter.

A copy of the letter has been sent to the Bangladesh High Commission in London, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority (BEPZA), Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh Bank and Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, where EWM/Peacock and/or its affiliates are registered as a liaison office, the British High Commission in Dhak, and other concerned ministries or departments.

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