Muhith against closing of sick factories

26 April 2014 :
The finance minister is strongly against the move to close down sick factories. Instead, he says, they should be given time to upgrade.
"Closing down units is not a good practice," Abul Maal Abdul Muhith said on Thursday, the first anniversary of the worst-ever building collapse.
The minister speaking at the International Business Forum of Bangladesh (IBFB) annual general meeting said the factories should be given time to recover and upgrade their status.
"I seriously object to the idea of closing down of some units just because they are not in proper shape," he asserted. He said alternative steps must be taken to bring them to the proper shape.
The Rana Plaza collapsed last year killing more than 1100 people mostly garment workers which evoked worldwide concerns about Bangladesh's factory safety and workers' rights.
More than 5000 factories of this burgeoning industry are mostly housed in the building which was built for residential purposes.
International communities have been pressing the government to shut down those factories which fail to meet inspectors' standards.
The finance minister said there had been several accidents in the garment industry and the government had introduced various grants to overcome the crisis.
"But it seems that the pursuit of the grant has not been that strong and that's the reason of Rana Plaza incident," he said.
"This incident has made us alive to the situation," he said.
The minister, however, echoed the US ambassador in Dhaka Dan Mozena who at the meeting referred post-Rana Plaza steps the garments sector had taken and said "every cloud has silver lining".
The US suspended its market access privilege to some of Bangladesh's products after the disaster and compelled Bangladesh to set up Trade and Investment Cooperation Forum Agreement (TICFA). Its first meeting will be held in Dhaka on Apr 28.
The ambassador said the TICFA meeting would discuss the efforts underway in Bangladesh to restore its GSP trade privileges in the US.
"These efforts are largely synonymous with Bangladesh's campaign to transform the apparel sector to bring worker safety and labour rights to international standards in the wake of the Rana Plaza building collapse and the Tazreen Fashions fire".
The US administration and trade representatives earlier in a joint statement acknowledged that Bangladesh had made "some important progress" after the worst-ever garment sector disaster, but more needs to be done.
The ambassador on Thursday said he was "confident" Bangladesh would succeed in this historic undertaking.
"….the road ahead is long and the obstacles will be many as some endeavour to thwart this transformation of Bangladesh's RMG sector," he said.

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