The Central Bank of Bangladesh has created a fund of Tk 100 crore with the assistance of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to improve safety standards in the apparel sector.
Factory owners will receive the loan from commercial banks at a maximum of 10 percent interest for rebuilding and relocating of factories and purchase of equipment.
The commercial banks should keep the interest rate low, Atiur Rahman, governor of Bangladesh Bank, said at a programme at the Westin Hotel in Dhaka.
JICA, Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association and the housing and public works ministry signed a deal.
The borrowers will have to repay the loan in 15 years with a grace period of two years, Bangladesh Bank said in a statement.
JICA agreed to give the fund following the Rana Plaza tragedy, under its ongoing project worth Tk 400 crore for the development of small and medium enterprises, launched in May 2011.
A technical team of JICA and engineers of the housing and public ministry will inspect the factories of loan seekers and estimate the costs, before the banks sanction the funds, said Anisuzzaman Chowdhury, senior programme officer of JICA.
The highest limit of the individual loan is Tk 10 crore, according to the banking regulator.
Bangladesh should adopt Japanese retrofitting technology to ensure worker safety, said Khondaker Showkat Hossain, housing and public works secretary.
Retrofitting is the process of modifying something after it has been manufactured. For buildings, it means making changes to the systems inside the building or even the structure itself at some point after its initial construction and occupation.
Japan wants to be more involved with Bangladesh, said Shiro Sadoshima, Japanese ambassador. “We want cooperation from the public and private sectors.”
Bangladesh is seriously working to address the workplace safety and rights of workers in the apparel industry, said Atiqul Islam, president of BGMEA.
Bangladesh should work seriously to maintain its sustainable economic growth, said Hiroyuki Tomita, JICA Bangladesh Office’s senior representative.
The public and private sector should work together to achieve the highest economic growth, Tomita said.