Interview with Md. Shafiul Islam (Mohiuddin)

Md. Shafiul Islam (Mohiuddin)
Md. Shafiul Islam (Mohiuddin)

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Located in Dhaka, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) commenced activities in the late 1970s when the Bangladeshi readymade garments (RMG) industry was a negligible non-traditional sector with a narrow export base. Since its inception, the BGMEA has been working to promote and protect the interests of the RMG sector - it has helped boost RMG exports by 500%, allowing Bangladesh to become one of the chief RMG exporters worldwide. BGMEA thus acts as an apex body with two-fold mission in its efforts to strengthen and promote the readymade garments (RMG) sector and the economy of Bangladesh. Md. Shafiul Islam (Mohiuddin) is the president of BGMEA. He is a Graduate in Commerce with honours in Accountancy and has also done his Masters in Commerce from Dhaka University. Besides, Mr Islam is also the member of France Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Vice President of Rugby Federation, and Managing Director of the Onus Group. Socially, he also associates himself as a member of Mohammedan Club, and involves in philanthropist activities such as financially supporting poor students. In Face2Face, speaking with Ms Madhu Soni- Sr Editor & Correspondent, elaborating the role of BGMEA in betterment of RMG sector in Bangladesh, Mr Shafiul Islam also shares about benefits that the revised GSP rules have brought in for the nation’s RMG segment.

Face2Face extends its warm welcome, Mr Islam. As you have taken charge as BGMEA President recently, we extend best compliments, and request your words on the significance that the RMG sector enjoys in the country’s economy.

Thanks for your compliments. Yes, the readymade garment industry acts as the backbone of Bangladesh economy. The industry contributes more than 10% to GDP, employs 3.6 million people directly, 80% of them are women, accounts for 77% of country’s export earning, i.e. USD14.86 billion worth of garment exports in 2010, around 20 million people are directly and indirectly depending on this RMG sector for their immediate livelihoods, rapid industrial growth and increase in employment through exports, economy moving out from Aid to Trade, the industry has created a platform for 2.8 million women to engage in new productive role in the society and empowering them, playing a lead role to alleviate poverty through skills development and employment generation.

So, for such a vital economy driver segment, as a representative body, what activities does BGMEA shoulder in enhancing the sector's performance day by day?

BGMEA works with the vision to develop the RMG industry of Bangladesh and the economy of the country. Having such vision BGMEA chalked out the following missions and its strategic direction is paved accordingly:

Firstly, to protect and promote the interests of the industry; thus ensuring a sustained growth in the foreign exchange earnings of the country.

Secondly, BGMEA is committed to ensure all legitimate rights and privileges of the garment workers. The association also strives toward the betterment of the society and environment.

On the trade promotion area we provide policy advocacy and dialogues for smooth functioning of trade and industries, issue Utilization Declaration (UD) and Utilization Permission (UP) as Entrusted by the Government, play a lead role in maintaining harmonious industrial relationship, keep members abreast on contemporary global business trend, organize Bangladesh Apparel & Textile Exposition (BATEXPO) since 1989 and the Chittagong Fabric, Apparel and Textile Exposition (CAFAXPO) since 2003, organize trade missions to explore the new markets and to facilitate trade in existing markets, organize seminars for recommending on key policies, take part in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations.

On the CSR part, we are also doing a number of activities like monitoring compliance standard in factories, group insurance scheme for the garment workers and staffs has been made mandatory, provide arbitration facilities to the garment workers free of cost, organize worker fairs annually, in 2010 a voice talent hunt program for the garment workers titled “Gorbo” was organized, building Code has been made mandatory for all member units, conduct regular fire drills and fire safety training program in member factories, run skill development programs for the garment industry, have taken particular projects for the rehabilitation of the returned camel Jokies from Dubai and provide job offers to people with disabilities in RMG factories.

We have exclusive activities on workers’ healthcare issues. BGMEA runs 12 healthcare centers at present in Dhaka and Chittagong for the garment workers and their families. These centers provide pre-medical treatment at free of cost, and also provide awareness on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other health issues. We are also in process to establish two full-fledged hospitals for the workers, a 100 bedded one in Chittagong and another 150 bedded in Dhaka. The one in Chittagong has already started partial operation with 25 beds and will be ready for full-fledged operation by this year. The hospital in Dhaka is under construction and will be completed by the next year. Besides, we also stand besides the people whenever there is any emergency or natural disaster in the country.

Published on: 30/05/2011

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of

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