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BGMEA demands duty-free import of fire safety equipment

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The duty-free import will help them ensure safety and security of the RMG workers by installing safety equipment as per the requirement of the global retailers

Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) wants the government to allow duty-free import of fire safety equipment in the next budget.

It will place their demands at pre-budget meet with National Board of Revenue, said BGMEA leaders.

They said the duty-free import will help them ensure safety and security of the RMG workers by installing safety equipment as per the requirement of the global retailers.

The apex body of the apparel sector will also demand allowing it duty-free import of pre-fabricated building materials as a good number of factories have to be relocated on safety and security grounds.

“Around 1,200 RMG factories need to install sprinklers, while 3,000 other factories have to install fire doors as per the requirement of the Accord and Alliance, which would cost over Tk2,500 crore but most of the factory owners are unable to bear such a huge expenses,??? BGMEA vice-president Shahiduallah Azim, told the Dhaka Tribune yesterday.

“If the government allows us duty-free import of the safety equipment, it would help reduce the burden from the shoulders of the factory owners to some extents.???

The BGMEA will also urge the government to keep a provision in the budget to provide low-interest loan for the entrepreneurs, who would relocate their factories to the “Garment Palli” to be built in Munshiganj.

Shahidullah Azim stressed the need to expand the using area of Export Development Fund (EDF), so the entrepreneurs can utilise these facilities to import safety materials.

 “If the government extends the EDF in other areas, it would help the sector to set up compliance machineries like ETP (effluent treatment plant) and building materials,??? he added.

Currently, EDF is being allowed to use it only for letter of credit (LC) opening and for back to back LC.

After the Rana Plaza building collapse, safety issue has become the most challenging one for the RMG makers as the retailers have threatened not place any more order in Bangladesh if this sector fails to address the compliance issues as per their recommendation.

According a rough estimate of BGMEA and suppliers, the country’s ready-made garment (RMG) sector needs to spend over Tk2,410 crore for importing fire equipment- sprinklers and fire doors- to comply with fire safety conditions set by the two retailers’ platforms Accord and Alliance.

The sector’s contribution to the national export is 79%, which amounted to US$16.13bn in the first eight month of the current fiscal year.

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Report: Ibrahim Hossain Ovi
Source: Dhaka Tribune

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