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Bangladesh garment makers call for efficient ports, stable power tariff

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2017-10-05 10:00:00 – Dhaka

Bangladesh garment manufacturers and exporters to target emerging exports destinations like India, China and the Latin American countries as they import garment items worth billions of dollars every year. For the continued growth of apparel exports, they have demanded that the government ensure efficient functioning of the Chittagong port and airports and a stable power tariff.

Tapan Chowdhury, president of the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association said that they want price predictability of electricity and gas so that they can plan for long periods in their business.

Also currently, as the primary textile sector can supply 85 percent of the raw materials required by the knitwear sector and 40 percent by the woven sector, incentives to the primary textile sector would help it to supply more raw materials to the garment sector, which typically accounts for 82 percent of the export receipts.

Chowdhury's comments came at a roundtable styled “current situation of the garment industry and a way out”, organized by the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association at the Westin Dhaka.

According to Mustafizur Rahman, a distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue, the challenge can be viewed as an opportunity too. To tap in that opportunity, they need to do some homework.

One such exercise would involve ensuring efficient functioning of the Chittagong, Mongla and Payra ports and airports. The export scenario globally has been recovering at a fast rate and Bangladesh is still the top choice for garment retailers and brands.

Anisur Rahman Sinha, chairman of Opex Group and a former BGMEA president said the garment business did not shrink but the profitability did due to an image crisis caused by the Rana Plaza building collapse and a slump in confidence amongst brands.

He suggested joint efforts from the government and the BGMEA to address the labour issues that continue to plague Bangladesh's reputation in the Western world.

M Tamim, head of the department of petroleum and mineral resources engineering at BUET said that price stability was a big factor for business persons. The growth that the garment sector witnessed over the last five years was possible because the garment manufacturers had invested in attaining efficiency to save the costs of power and energy.

He added that the government should formulate a policy determining whether it will allow captive power plants all the time or supply electricity from the national grid as tariff from the two varies a lot.

Nasrul Hamid, state minister for power and energy said that the existing crisis for gas would end by April next year as the government was going to import liquefied natural gas,. By the next three years the government will ensure uninterrupted power to the industrial units.

The state minister also said the government will not give any power connections to industries if they are not located in economic zones.

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