Also requested for a deadline extension of two to five years, with a one-year grace period, for repaying the initial Tk 5,000 crore stimulus
The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) on Monday sought yet another stimulus package to mitigate the economic onslaught of the second wave of the pandemic on the apparel makers.
“The garment sector is the driver of the economy as it employs millions. So to save the industry from collapse and to protect workers, we request the government to provide policy support including a new package,” said BGMEA President Rubana Huq in a virtual press conference.
The trade body also requested for a deadline extension of two to five years, with a one-year grace period, for repaying the initial Tk 5,000 crore stimulus the government had announced for export-oriented industries to pay workers' wages earlier this year.
From the stimulus package, the apparel manufacturers have so far taken Tk 10,500 crore to pay their wages.
“We are facing the second wave of Covid-19 and the exports are going through a negative trend.”
Amid the pandemic, the prices of apparel goods fell by 5.23 per cent in September in the global market and 4.15 per cent in the US, she said.
In October, the prices of clothing products exported from Bangladesh saw 4.15 per cent and 4.92 per cent in November, while the buyers are placing 30 per cent fewer work orders.
“This means that a factory has to run with 70 per cent capacity.”
In the given context, the apparel industry is in trouble and needs immediate comprehensive steps to avoid untoward incidents for the sake of the industry and also workers' livelihoods, Huq said.
Bangladesh’s exports to major countries declined significantly in October.
In the US, it declined 8 per cent, to Germany by 10 per cent, Spain 6 per cent, France 15 per cent, Italy 30 per cent and Japan 28 per cent, according to the BGMEA.
With the government’s immediate farsighted policy support, the apparel makers were able to face the first wave of the pandemic effectively, Huq said.
“But the upcoming second wave pose grave threats.”
As the demands for goods are falling in the global markets and buyers not placing enough work orders, it is impossible to repay the loan instalments taken under the stimulus package, she said.
“We have a huge opportunity in the days to come and I hope the public health crisis will not prolong after June.”
Exports earnings from the apparel sector, which accounts for more than 84 per cent of the receipts, declined about 1.5 per cent to $12.9 billion in the first five months of the fiscal year.