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Speech of the Honorable President of BGMEA on RMG Situation and Meeting with ACCORD SC

Speech of the Honorable President of BGMEA Mr. Md. Siddiqur Rahman
Press Conference, BGMEA, Dhaka, 20 October 2017


Dear friends from media,

Assalamu Alaikum and good afternoon.

I cordially welcome you all to this press conference today. This press conference is a part of our regular interaction with you.

You all are aware that the Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has kindly instructed all the ports in Bangladesh including the Chittagong Port to remain open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. This is a revolutionary decision which is helping us a lot to reduce lead time. We extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to the Honorable Prime Minister.

I would also like to thank Honorable Minister for Shipping for taking steps to improve the capacity of the Chittagong port, especially for placing the purchase order of 6 Gantry Cranes and 2 mobile harbor cranes. Already a number of equipment and machineries have been installed in the Chittagong Port in recent times. However, the crisis in the port is still not fully overcome. We notice with regret that our exporters are not utilizing the opportunity to use the Chittagong Port and Dhaka Airport round the clock.

I would like to thank Mr. Abul Kalam Azad, the Chief Coordinator of the SDGs Affairs under Prime Minister’s Office for his leadership and efforts to resolve the congestion in Dhaka Airport. Now efforts are urgently required to make sure that the 2 EDS machines imported to increase the capacity of Dhaka Airport’s freight handling and storage become operation at soonest possible time. I would like to draw the attention of the Government in this regard. At the same time I request the entrepreneurs in this industry to kindly avail the opportunity of delivering the goods round the clock.

Dear friends,

The volume of goods transportation at Chittagong port is increasing by 17%-18% every year. To meet this growing need the capacity of the port required annual increase in its handling capacity by 20% at least. But it did not happen. Whereas we need build 60 jetties in the port in last 40 years, we could build only 7. Only due to the inadequacy of jetties in the port we admit losses worth billions of Taka every year. We are falling behind in lead time by 10-15 days because of this congestion and mis-management of the port. As a result the RMG industry and its competitiveness are being adversely affected.

We thank the Government for the remarkable progress in electricity generation capacity. Currently the installed capacity of electricity generation in Bangladesh stands at 15600MW which was 4942MW in 2009. Despite the massive improvement in generation capacity, till now our factories located outside of Dhaka are facing 3-4 hours of load shedding every day.

The crisis of gas supply has turned extreme in the Gazipur, Ashulia, Savar, Kasimpur and Konabari areas. More than 300 factories located in these areas are not being able to continue production due to almost ‘zero pressure’ of gas. We discussed this matter of the relevant authority of Bangladesh Government and they have assured us that they will provide gas to our factories by suspending supply to a fertilizer factory.

Besides, the traffic congestion in Dhaka and suburbs are affecting our industry and its operation. Its causing loss of many valuable working hours every day and pushing our production cost up. Our mid level management personnel are very much reluctant to go to factories in those areas because it takes almost 3 hours to reach the factory and 3 hours to come back home every day, which is almost impossible to maintain. So we would request the Government to clear the both sides of the Tongi-Gazipur road and construct proper drainage system and also to construct 4 lane road with drainage system in Baipail-Ashulia route.

Dear friends,

You are aware that a meeting was held with the Steering Committee of Accord on 19 October 2017 presided by the Honorable Commerce Minister Mr. Tofail Ahmed and attended by Honorable State Minister for Labour & Employment Mr. Mujibul Haque, myself the President of BGMEA and the President of FBCCI Mr. Shafiul Islam. The meeting was held at the Ministry of Commerce, Bangladesh Secretariat.

The discussions in the meeting covered following points –

Since the unfortunate accident in Rana Plaza the buyers led platforms ACCORD and ALLIANCE have been working closely with the Government of Bangladesh and BGMEA to ensure proper safety standards at the readymade garment factories. This unique model of industry transformation has been widely acclaimed across the globe. Today we can proudly say that Bangladesh is one of the safest apparel producing country and this would perhaps not been possible without the support of brands in the form of ACCORD and ALLIANCE. Throughout the journey of our industry we received the support of our customers in our good and bad times. And when our industry was at the crossroads after the Rana Plaza collapse, the global brands and retailers took unprecedented move and invested millions of dollars to ensure proper workplace safety in this industry. At the same time the Bangladeshi entrepreneurs have spent millions of dollars to remediate the factories. So I take this opportunity to sincerely thank our valued customers and the entrepreneurs for their efforts.

To ensure expeditious remediation and safety monitoring of the factories under the National Initiative - NI (which are not inspected by ACCORD and ALLIANCE), the Government of Bangladesh in collaboration with BGMEA and ILO has established the Remediation Coordination Council (RCC). The remediation activities of these NI factories have started already.

Moreover, currently there are 67 green factories operating in Bangladesh certified by USGBC. A number of 280 have already registered with USGBC for such certification. The new factories which are being set up in recent times are being built considering the safety requirement, compliance and environmental issues to be met, and they know the consequence of non-compliant factories. BGMEA is not providing any member to any new factories until we are satisfied that the factories fully meet compliance standards.

Since most of the safety flaws in factories have already been corrected and we are confident that the remaining part of the remediation will be completed by the middle of 2018 (ACCORD listed factories have already completed more than 80% of their remediation plans, ALLIANCE has informed formally that they will complete the remaining part of their remediation within next 7 months and will leave Bangladesh), and given the fact that the new factories are being built with strict adherence to workplace safety and compliance standards, the Government of Bangladesh feels that the continuation of ACCORD and ALLIANCE will not be required after their expiry in 2018.

The discussions in the meeting also covered following points –

1.    Accord is very interested to handover the safety follow up work to the National Initiative called RCC subject to agreed condition of readiness.
2.    However Accord requested the minister for a six-month extension for a revised organization titled: ‘Transition Accord’.
3.    A ‘Monitoring Committee’ will be formed with representatives of MOLE, BGMEA, International Trade Union and ILO. They will meet on or before 1st November 2017.
4.    This Monitoring Committee will set out in details the objective criteria for the verification of the performance of the RCC.
5.    The Monitoring Committee will report to the Government of Bangladesh and Accord every six months, with the first report due on 1st Jan 2018 and second review on end of May 2018 on the performance of the RCC.
6.    Once the Government of Bangladesh, Accord signatories and all stakeholders, who have been working since the inception of Accord, are satisfied with the performance of the RCC, as verified by the Monitoring Committee, Transition Accord will hand over all activities over a six-month period to the National Initiative and exit.
7.    A separate Interim Committee will be formed with Transition Accord signatories with the participation of BGMEA to work out in details the Protocols that will govern the execution of the Articles written in Transition Accord.
 
I would like to conclude by saying that the RMG industry is built by the sweat and toil of millions of workers, our very hard working entrepreneurs, the policy supports by the government and the support of media. This is not an industry of any individual or group, this is a national asset. It is the duty of us all to protect and promote this industry.

I thank you all for your patient hearing.

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