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No extension for Accord and Alliance: Bangla Minister
Dec '15
Bangladesh could be headed for confrontation with Accord and Alliance - the two platforms of European and North American buyers for ensuring safety in the country's readymade garment (RMG) industry after Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said they would not be given any additional time for inspection of garment factories in Bangladesh after the agreement expires in July 2018.

His comments came at the inauguration of a three-day “Building and Fire Safety EXPO – 2015” in Dhaka, Bangladeshi newspapers have reported.

The minister said there are many countries in the world that do not allow anyone to inspect their factories. “Those intending to inspect them are not given visas…. Accord and Alliance are trying to extend their stay. But they will not be given a single day, even a second after July 2018,” a combative Ahmed said.

Garment exporter's association BGMEA and North American garment importers' group Alliance are helping to host the show.

Accord and Alliance have the sanction to do factory inspections in Bangladesh till July 2018. Alliance has so far inspected 587 factories and trained the workers employed by many of them while Accord has inspected 1,289 factories.

There is a five-year legally binding agreement between the two platforms and trade unions to ensure a safe working environment in the industry.

The retailers' initiatives were launched in 2013 after the Rana Plaza tragedy.

Ahmed said after Tazreen Fire incident and Rana Plaza building collapse, lots of initiatives have been taken to ensure safety of workers.

He said to ensure safety in workplaces, the government has cut import duty to zero per cent from 52 per cent on fire safety equipment and prefabricated building materials.

“But unfortunately, the international community misunderstood Bangladesh. The Rana Plaza tragedy is not the whole picture of Bangladeshi RMG industry,” he said

BGMEA President Siddiqur Rahman said inspection of RMG factories are over, but the challenge remains with funding for remediation works in factories, especially those of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

He said: “We are confident of completing the works by 2016.”

Siddiqur said Bangladesh has already introduced 20 green factories, and the number is expected to stand at 150 by the end of 2016.

A total of 18 companies have completed Corrective Action Plans, which is now a full-fledged compliance, said M Rabin, executive director of Alliance. He also said: “Bangladesh is much safer than others.” (SH)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India

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