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BGMEA Urges Govt to Sustain Policy Support for Garment Industry Amid Global Challenges

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The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) has called on the government to persist in providing policy support to uphold the competitiveness of the ready-made garment industry amidst global economic challenges.

During a meeting at the Secretariat in Dhaka on Sunday (4 February), a delegation led by BGMEA President Faruque Hassan conveyed this message to Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, according to a press release.

The delegation, including former BGMEA president Md Siddiqur Rahman, BGMEA Senior Vice President SM Mannan (Kochi), Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) President Mohammad Ali Khokon, Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) Executive President Mohammad Hatem, and Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FBCCI) Vice President Md Munir Hossain, met with Commerce Ministry Senior Secretary Tapan Kanti Ghosh and Finance Division Secretary Md Khairuzzaman Mozumder.

Expressing congratulations to Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali for taking on the responsibilities of this crucial ministry, the meeting primarily addressed the urgent issues faced by Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry.

Discussions centered around the impact of the global economic situation on the RMG industry, LDC graduation, and its consequences for Bangladesh’s trade.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan outlined the significant challenges affecting the RMG industry, citing the repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine war, which has led to considerable inflation in the United States and European Union countries. This inflation has resulted in a decrease in apparel exports to key markets for Bangladesh.

Highlighting that a decline in garment exports would adversely affect Bangladesh’s foreign reserves, as the RMG industry constitutes 84% of the country’s total export earnings, he also noted the industry’s efforts to implement a new minimum wage for garment workers amid escalating energy and raw material prices.

In this demanding environment, the sudden government decision to reduce cash incentives for garment shipments and other export-oriented products is anticipated to negatively impact exports and the overall economy, Faruque Hassan asserted.

BGMEA President Faruque Hassan urged the government to reconsider this decision and maintain the previously established policy support through cash incentives.

Finance Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali reassured the delegation that the government would thoroughly examine the issue of cash incentives to provide support to the RMG industry.

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Economy

Feb Records $2.16bn Highest Remittance Inflow in 8 Months

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Expatriate Bangladeshis contributed a record-high of US$2.16 billion in remittances during February, marking the highest figure in the past eight months.

This substantial increase of 38.46% compared to the same month last year, as reported by Bangladesh Bank, comes as a significant boost to the country’s foreign exchange reserves. Notably, June 2023 had witnessed a slightly higher remittance inflow at $2.19 billion.

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Economy

Foreign Minister to Address OIC Meeting on Israeli Aggression

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Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud, currently in Turkey, is scheduled to participate in an extraordinary meeting of the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) Council of Foreign Ministers in Jeddah on March 5. The meeting aims to address the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people. The OIC will host the meeting at its General Secretariat headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Following his participation in the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkey from March 1 to 3, Foreign Minister Hasan will travel to Jeddah to attend the OIC meeting. During the Antalya Diplomacy Forum, Hasan emphasized the urgent need for a collective effort to end the ongoing genocide in Gaza and hold Israel accountable for crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha is expected to address the opening session of the meeting. A preparatory senior officials meeting (SOM) will precede the meeting to discuss and adopt the draft agenda and work program and consider the draft resolution before submitting it to the Council of Foreign Ministers the following day.

In November of the previous year, Saudi Arabia hosted an extraordinary joint Arab and Islamic Summit in Riyadh, jointly organized by the OIC and the League of Arab States. The conference adopted several decisions, including assigning a committee of Foreign Ministers to tour world capitals and international organizations to halt Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

As part of its ongoing efforts to stop Israeli aggression, the OIC held an open-ended executive committee extraordinary meeting at the foreign minister level in October of the previous year.

In an interview with TRT World, Minister Hasan highlighted the lack of sufficient global action to halt the violence and atrocities in Gaza. He emphasized that the situation in Gaza constitutes crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing.

Representing Bangladesh at the Forum in Turkey, Hasan underscored the potential of the global community to play a pivotal role in addressing these atrocities. The Antalya Diplomacy Forum, initiated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, concluded on March 3, convening heads of state, government officials, diplomats, business leaders, academics, and representatives from various sectors to discuss “Advancing Diplomacy in Times of Turmoil,” the theme for this year.

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BERC Announces Slight Increase in LPG Rates

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In a recent update from the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC), the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) has been raised by Tk0.66, reaching a new rate of Tk123.52 per kg, up from the previous Tk122.86. This adjustment, effective from 6 pm on Sunday, signals a slight uptick in household and commercial expenses.

The BERC, during a press briefing on March 3, provided details on the price adjustment, stating that the cost for a standard 12 kg LPG cylinder will now be Tk1,482, inclusive of VAT, marking an increase from the previous Tk1,474. This adjustment follows a rational scale across various LPG cylinder sizes, ranging from 5.5 kg to 45 kg, aiming to ensure a proportional price revision across different consumer segments.

Additionally, the price for “auto gas,” the LPG variant used in motor vehicles, has also been revised to Tk68.05 per litre, including VAT, a slight increase from Tk67.68. This adjustment reflects the broader impact of LPG price changes on transportation and related costs.

It is noteworthy that LPG prices offered by the state-owned LP Gas Company will remain unchanged. This exception is attributed to its local production and the company’s minimal market share, which is less than 5%.

The decision to adjust LPG prices is a response to the escalating costs in the international market, particularly linked to the rise in the Saudi CP (contract price), a benchmark influencing local operators importing LPG primarily from the Middle East.

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