Finance Minister AMA Muhith as three-day apparel expo takes off

The government will roll out an additional stimulus of Tk 100 crore for small- and medium-scale garment exporters to help increase their competitiveness on the global market, said Finance Minister AMA Muhith yesterday.

The fund will be given to the garment companies that have exported up to $3.5 million worth of items in line with the definition of small and medium enterprises.

Muhith, however, did not elaborate when and how the fund will be disbursed among the beneficiaries.

The minister was addressing the inauguration of the three-day BATEXPO-2010, an apparel and textile fair, at Bangabandhu International Conference Centre in Dhaka. Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) organises the show every year.

"We are seriously considering building dormitories for garment workers," he said.

Earlier, the minister announced a stimulus package of more than Tk 1,000 crore to assist the exporters to offset the impacts of the global recession.

Muhith said 2,000 megawatts of additional electricity will be added to the national grid by next January to ease the power crunch.

Textiles and Jute Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui said an industry cannot succeed in the absence of good relationship between the owners and workers and suggested the factory owners not to endanger the state by burdening it with sick industries.

Labour Minister Khandker Mosharraf Hossain said many workers are not getting the exact value for their labour. "It's not the workers, but the few conspirators who are responsible for arson attacks on garment factories."

Commerce Minister Faruk Khan suggested garment owners work for developing fashion and designs, apart from making clothes, to grab a wider share of the global market.

"So far, Bangladesh has been able to secure only 3 percent of the $400 billion global apparel business. We could invest in some African countries to explore new markets."

Shipping Minister Shajahan Khan suggested the garment businesses use Mongla Port to its best for business purposes.

He also assured them of reducing the charges of Mongla port. "I will announce a more rational tariff for the port's users within the next month as demanded by the garment owners."

BGMEA President Abdus Salam Murshedy urged the government for taking measures to develop skilled manpower as the country has to pay more than half a million dollar a year for hiring foreign technical experts for the sector.

The government should also develop infrastructures and reintroduce food rations for the workers, Murshedy added.

Eighty-seven companies of Bangla-desh, India, Pakistan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and Brazil are show-casing their apparel products at 137 stalls.

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