'We are optimistic about apparel sector in 2009'- CEO, Rajmoni Intl
Mr. Md. Shahidul Islam
The adverse conditions created due to the economic crisis leading to global recessionary trends have got countries, manufacturing and export companies gasping for breath. Ambitious export targets which looked achievable just a few months ago seem like a blimp on the screen now.
This predicament is being faced by the Bangladesh textile and garment industry too. The fiscal year 2007-08 saw Bangladesh textile and garment sector earning US $14.11 billion in export revenues, registering a growth of 15.87 percent compared to the previous year.
This industry contributes to more than 70 percent of all exports put together in the country. Coming on the heels of this exceptional growth rate, the country had set an ambitious target to reach $16 billion in the current fiscal a growth of 15.5 percent over the last fiscal's figure and $25 billion by 2012.
Since 25 percent or $4.15 billion is projected to be earned from shipments to its key market; the US, the main country from which the crisis originated and the most to be affected by the same, is it possible under the current recessionary trend to achieve the targets for the current fiscal is what fibre2fashion set off to ask.
To get a better idea of the current crisis faced by the garment industry, Fibre2fashion spoke to the Director of Rajmoni Trade International, Mr. Md. Shahidul Islam. Rajmoni International is a 100 percent export oriented garment manufacturer and a leading buying house in Bangladesh with a clientele spread across the western countries.
First and foremost we asked him on how much the crisis will impact the Bangladesh garment industry, Mr Shahidul said, “the effect will be very high in Bangladesh, because after the current orders in hand are completed and we try to get new orders we will have to face big problems of pricing etc. So the coming months are going to be very crucial for the industry at large.”
We asked him as to what the industry was doing to reduce the impact and face the crisis head-on, he said, “Well, the whole industry has put on their thinking caps, but the main thing to do is to be cost effective and reduce costs to the bare minimum. Each and everyone right from the owner to the worker should double efforts to increase productivity and reduce costs at least till the crisis gets over.'
Since during these trying times the industry expects the government to come to its rescue, we asked what were the expectations of the industry and till date what had the government done for the sector, he categorically said, “the government should advise the banks to reduce lending rates and cut unnecessary extra charges levied by these banks. It should also reduce taxes and duties and should also provide subsidies to the sick and weak garment units to survive through the crisis otherwise, this situation if not controlled could lead to mass unemployment which the country can ill afford.”
He was very appreciative of the steps the government had taken to cope with the crisis and said, “Our Government has already taken some measures like they have advised garment exporters and banks to open letters of credit cautiously so that in current times payments are not struck. As far as I know, the Government is seized and fully concerned about the situation and is prepared to take action if the crisis snowballs out of hand. The government has also set up special committees which include representatives from trade bodies like BGMEA and BKMEA.