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12/12/2012: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurates BATEXPO-2012

Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina Wednesday asked the garment owners to pay their workers more alongside ensuring hundred per cent compliance in their factories for the highest security of workers, report agencies."Pay more to the workers, ensure their highest security and be active to meet the compliance of the buyers," she said while inaugurating the three-day 23rd Bangladesh Apparel and Textile Exposition (Batexpo-2012) at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre (BICC).

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Jute and Textiles Minister Abdul Latif Siddique, LGRD Minister Syed Ashraful Islam, Commerce Minister Ghulam Muhammed Quader and Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan addressed the function as special guests.First vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) Mohammed Nasir Uddin Chowdhuy and second vice-president M Siddiqur Rahman also spoke at the programme held with BGMEA president Safiul Islam Mohiuddin in the chair.The PM said the garment sector is contributing a lot to the country's economy alongside creating jobs. "You (factory owners) are also making good money," she said.
Referring to duty and tax rebates to the garment sector, the premier said, "You (owners) need to think if the amount of rebate gets higher where from the government will give you the stimulus package?"

She urged the garment factory owners to avail the opportunity of grabbing more global markets as Bangladesh is now at the heart of discussion for its potential in the apparel sector. About the acts of sabotage, Hasina said she believes a worker cannot set fire to or damage the factory where he or she works because it gives the bread and butter to him or her. Hasina requested the garment workers to remain alert so that no one could exploit their simplicity and do harm to their garment factories.The PM urged the garment owners to remain alert about behind-the-scene games against Bangladesh as it is doing well in the RMG sector. She said her government has taken initiatives to set up a Garment Village (Palli) on 300 acres of land at Gozaria of Munshiganj district for easy and safe development of the garment industry.

Apart from providing financial incentives twice, she said, the present government has been implementing various measures to protect this sector from global recession. The Prime Minister said her government is making efforts to explore more markets abroad for RMG, particularly duty free access to US market. The government is providing duty and tax facilities to the garment owners and industrial police was also raised for protection of the industries, she said."Dormitories for garment workers are being constructed in Chittagong and Ashulia where females would get priority," she said. Hasina said new export processing zones are being set up alongside expanding Dhaka and Chittagong EPZs to attract domestic and foreign investments for the expansion of country's trade and commerce. She said Bangladesh is now in the second position in South Asia and third in the World in terms of readymade garment export.

The PM mentioned that the country earned about 24.29 billion US dollars through exporting RMG items of which 19 billion US dollars came from knitwear and woven garments. Following various steps taken during 1996-2001 tenure of her government, Hasina said RMG exports doubled and several hundred export-oriented composite textile mills were established in the country during the period. Besides, licence fee for captive generator has been reduced to Tk 5,000 from Tk 0.5 million while 15 per cent value added tax (VAT) imposed on the use of floor space for garment industries has been withdrawn, she added. Hasina said her government has empowered BGMEA for issuing 'Country of Origin' certificate. The government is ready to give the association more responsibilities provided it can build up its capacity, she announced.

Highlighting the contributions of female workers to the RMG sector, Hasina said about 4.0 million workers are involved in this sector and 80 per cent of them are women.As a result, she said, the economy of the country has been geared up through reduction of poverty, increasing literacy rate along with improving child and mother health significantly in rural areas that ultimately empowered the poor women.

Source: The Financial Express, Dhaka