Further decisions would be announced after consulting with the prime minister
Manufacturers and their representatives on Thursday once again urged the government to reopen factories amid the ongoing lockdown, to prevent massive losses.
They placed the demand at a meeting with Cabinet Secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam on the day.
During the meeting, the cabinet secretary addressed the business community and said that he will brief the prime minister about their proposal.
“Further decisions would be announced after consulting with the prime minister,” he added.
After the meeting, Faruque Hassan, president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), told the media that they had come to reason with the government and keep factories out of the lockdown purview.
“Not just apparel factories, we sought to allow the reopening all sorts of factories. The cabinet secretary assured us that he will take up our plight with the prime minister. We are hopeful of a positive announcement,” he added.
He also said that they requested the government to vaccinate all apparel workers.
“Around 30,000 workers have been vaccinated before Eid-ul-Azha, on July 18 and 19. Those who live in the vicinity of their factories feel comfortable in getting vaccinated, but others do not want to be vaccinated due to lack of hospitals and vaccination centres in their respective villages,” said the BGMEA president.
Jashim Uddin, president of the FBCCI, told the media that they have highlighted the problems that occur because of the closure of the industries.
“The supply chain is collapsing, leading to severe congestion at the port. There are risks of losing the international market, and the supply chain is also causing problems in our local industries,” he added.
He also said that food, leather, and pharmaceuticals industries have been kept out of the lockdown. But even they face problems related to supply chain.
Those industries need wrapping, cartons, boxes etc. Other industries cannot be shut down in such a situation, he added.
Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of the BGMEA said that they have urged the government to consider the industries' situation, as the main destination for Bangladeshi RMGs are the US and the EU, who have already opened their shops.
As a result, manufacturers are under pressure to ship goods on time, but are unable to do so if their factories remain shut, he lamented.
Countries like Bangladesh have no economic strength to afford such closure of economic activities, he added.
Led by BGMEA former president and Exporters Association of Bangladesh (EAB) President Abdus Salam Murshedy, BKMEA President Salim Osman, BGMEA vice president Khandaker Rafiqul Islam, DCCI President Rizwan Rahman and BKMEA first vice president Mohammad Hatem were also present at the meeting.
Earlier, apparel manufacturers feared that they may lose their opportunity to turn their loss around due to the 19-day long closure of their factories because of the Eid holidays and the lockdown as they export 35%-40% of their products during this peak season of June, July, and August.
However, the government has kept all factory units closed to curb the spread of new variant of coronavirus since July 23 except the units that manufacture products for preventing Covid-19, medicines, food and rawhide processing.
On July 15, the BGMEA, BKMEA, BTMA, Bangladesh Terry Towel and Linen Manufacturers and Exporters Association, and Bangladesh Garments Accessories and Packaging Manufacturers and Exporters Association in a joint letter urged the Prime Minister to keep their export-oriented garment and allied factories out of the purview of the strict lockdown, and allow the units to resume operations.