Dhaka, Tuesday, 04 October 2022

Keep RMG factories open during COVID-19 lockdown

Keep RMG factories open during COVID-19 lockdown

Apparel Correspondent: Bangladesh readymade garment (RMG) manufacturers and exporters have demanded the government to keep factories open during the COVID-19 lockdown.

The leaders made the call at a joint press conference of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA), Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA), and other apparel organizations held on Sunday, April 11 in the capital's Pan Pacific Sonargaon.

Acting President of BGMEA Mohammad Abdus Salam said, “The local RMG factories have been struggling to recover the losses they incurred during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“In the 2017-20 fiscal year (FY), we lost about $6 billion in RMG exports. In the first 9 months of the current FY, compared to the FY 2018-19, we have lost 9.5 per cent RMG exports,” Salam said.

“Work orders worth $3.18 billion were either cancelled or held up due to the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now around 90 per cent of work orders were reinstated with discount and delayed payment, Salam added.

Former BGMEA President Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin said, “We have already been taken adequate safety measures at the factory levels to protect the workers from the COVID-19 infection.”

BGMEA President-elect and Managing Director of Giant Group Faruque Hassan sought cooperation from the government for keeping the factories open so that the work orders from the international apparel market do not hamper.

Hassan said the COVID-19 infection rate will decrease if the workers stay in the factory. Many developed countries in Europe, America, and even our neighbouring India have announced lockdowns but factories are still open there. Most of the workers live adjacent to the factory. They can come to the factory easily. So, in that case, the factory can be kept running.

“The factory owners will have to face troubles in paying the salaries and festival allowances for the workers if they cannot run production and ship goods as per schedule. And so, we will lag behind in the global apparel exports market,” Hasan added.

Earlier, the government enforced the first phase of the 7-day countrywide lockdown on April 5 which has been extended by two days from Sunday. Besides, the country will go for an all-out lockdown from April 14 which will be tougher than the previous ones to curb the transmission of COVID-19.