• Monday, Nov 29, 2021
  • Last Update : 10:31 pm

The most important BGMEA polls in recent times

  • Published at 01:57 am February 10th, 2021
The new BGMEA headquarters in Uttara <strong>Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune</strong>
The new BGMEA headquarters in Uttara Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

An assured hand is needed to lead the garment sector in the bumpy journey ahead

There is no doubt that Bangladesh’s apparel sector has been amongst the worst-hit for the pandemic.

In 2020, garment, which brings home the lion’s share of export earnings, posted a 17 per cent drop in receipts to $27.5 billion. And the trend continued into the new year: in January apparel export receipts contracted 4.7 per cent to $2.9 billion.

Even if shipments pick up, Vietnam and India are biting at Bangladesh’s heels for the number two spot in global apparel trade.

These suggest the road ahead is bumpy, and an assured leadership at sector’s apex trade body is needed to steer the uncharted territory.

Which is why, the biennial election to select the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association’s new committee for 2021-2023 has taken on added significance. 

The apparel manufacturers already have floated their panel leaders under Sammilita Parishad, Forum and Shadhinata Parishad to contest the polls, scheduled to take place on April 4.

Faruque Hassan, a former senior vice-president of the BGMEA, will lead the Sammilita Parishad, while ABM Shamsuddin, a former vice-president of the trade body, will lead Forum.

Usually, only the Sammilita Parishad and Forum would take part in the polls, but from 2019 a third panel, the Shadhinata Parishad, began contesting.

Jahangir Alam, managing director of Design and Source, will lead Shadhinata Parishad as its panel leader.  

These panel leaders are also searching for candidates for the 35-member board to contest the polls.

In the present context of the pandemic, the Sammilita Parishad will be very meticulous in selecting its panel members, as there are steep challenges ahead, Faruque Hassan, managing director of Giant Group, told Dhaka Tribune.

“We are going to add second-generation entrepreneurs as well as women entrepreneurs in our panel based on their knowledge and business performance -- it will be a combination of old and new.”

The criteria for selecting candidates would be their capacity to handle diplomats, global buyers, as well as workers, along with better negotiation skills to deal with the government to realise the demands of the business community.

Capable women entrepreneurs are not willing to take up leadership positions.

“But we have included some who can deal with the issues. We do not want to add them in symbolic capacities. Rather, they will work boldly and contribute to the sector,” Hassan added.

The world is still going through the pandemic, so the road ahead has to be faced with proper knowledge and experience, said ABM Shamsuddin, chairman of Hannan Group. 

“To face the upcoming challenges with the existing one, we will select candidates for our panel who know the business and have enough knowledge about global happenings in trade and commerce.” 

Forum will include women entrepreneurs among its candidates. 

“There are exceptional women entrepreneurs, who are leading their businesses successfully. We will include those women,” Shamsuddin added.

Meanwhile, the Shadhinata Parishad wants to focus on representing the SMEs. 

It also pledged not to include those outside of the apparel business.

“The voice of SMEs remains unheard. They are struggling to survive. To raise the voice of those exporters, we would select our candidates from that pool,” Alam told Dhaka Tribune.

Of course, knowledge will be top on the priority list along with the mindset to serve the BGMEA members.

“In the past, we have seen some leaders in the board who are not in the business -- this raised question among the general members about the service. In our panel, there is no scope for such people; rather, we will select only exporters who feel the pain of the business community.”

Alam also urged other panels not to select outsiders to contest the election, as it would deprive the rights of workers, as well as the general members.  

Former BGMEA presidents also want knowledge-based leadership that will come up with innovative new ideas and take measures to soothe the woes of general members.

Factory owners are not happy with services offered by the BGMEA and the way they are operating, said Abdus Salam Murehedy, a former BGMEA president.

“It is time to find a leader who will talk and work for the small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) who are struggling to survive.”

Panels should not select those who are only successful entrepreneurs; they should nominate an entrepreneur who has the mentality to work for the members and take the sector to new heights, said Murshedy, also the managing director of Envoy Textile.

“If there is a crisis, there is also a solution. To devise a permanent solution to the crisis is the task of the leadership,” said Anwar-ul Alam Chowdhury, another former president of the garment sector’s apex trade body.

The leadership has to work to strengthen trade and ensure benefits from the government so that every member can be benefitted.

“There are different panels and the motto of the panels is to work for the betterment of the sector. Their leaders should be knowledgeable,” he added.   

Md Atiqul Islam, the erstwhile BGMEA president and current mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation, said: “The Rana Plaza collapse was a great challenge for the industry, but we successfully handled it. What helped us was experienced leadership, along with a dedicated and experienced team.” 

Experience shows how to recover from trouble. The growth of the country’s economy and employment opportunity depend on the success of the garment industry.

A candidate must have business acumen and experience to handle the issues and dedication to serve its members wholeheartedly, Islam added. 

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