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Garment sector might not be able to reach $50 billion target by 2021 for gas crisis and other harassments, BGMEA President

Siddiqur Rahman, President of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, expressed a great frustration on the BGMEA-BUFT Journalism Fellowship award giving ceremony held in city recently as the production in garment factories in major industrial hubs has been hampered over the last three few days because of discontinuing gas supply from CNG stations.

Siddiqur Rahman, President, BGMEA
Figure: Siddiqur Rahman, President, BGMEA

The garment makers in Savar, Ashulia and Gazipur were running their units by diverting gas from CNG stations as the main lines were not supplying gas. But by the end of first week of November, suddenly CNG cylinder refilling for factories has been suspended without any prior notice. And this has badly affected production in many industries for three days in a row.

Siddiqur Rahman said, the sector might not reach its target of hitting $50 billion in exports by 2021 if the gas crisis continues. “We hope that the government will supply gas with adequate pressure to factories soon so that production is not hampered,” said Siddiqur Rahman on the award program at the BGMEA auditorium in Dhaka.

He also demanded to reduce the corporate tax rate as the rate is very high. Now the sector is paying 20% corporate tax. Siddiqur Rahman urged to the government to reduce the corporate tax to 10 percent. To attract fresh investment in the garment sector it is very essential, he added.

Siddiqur Rahman also criticized the government service that the garment manufacturers are becoming victims of harassments in case of trade license renewal as some officials demand bribes from them. Similarly, some officials in the government’s customs department also harass the garment makers. “We are becoming the victims of unnecessary harassment in almost every government office. If you do not stop the harassment, we will stop garment business in Bangladesh”, ‍said Siddiqur Rahman.

Rahman said 35 garment factories have already been certified by the US Green Building Council as LEED green factories, while another 150 are waiting to receive their green certification from the agency.

Foreigners are taking away billions of dollars from Bangladesh every year in the absence of local experts in the sector, he said, adding that the BGMEA University of Fashion and Technology has been producing a lot of skilled manpower to fill in the gap of mid-level technical people.

Six journalists from print, electronic and radio media received the BGMEA-BUFT Journalism Fellowship in this year. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed handed over awards and cheques to the fellows at the programme as Chief Guest of the program.

In response to BGMEA president’s urge, Tofail Ahmed said if the manufacturers are not supplied gas regularly, they will not be able to reach the export target by 2021.

“Primarily, I was irritated with the Accord and Alliance inspection initiatives, but it was better for the country’s RMG sector as the inspection found less than 2% factory risky to safety, which has already been closed while the global safety risk rate is about 4%.”, he added.

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