Commerce minister Tofail Ahmed on Tuesday said that Accord and Alliance were no longer required for Bangladesh readymade garment sector and the time frame of the platforms would not be extended anymore beyond December this year.
‘Accord and Alliance will leave Bangladesh after the six-month transition period on December 7 and then we will take over the responsibility of factory remediation and inspection,’ the commerce minister said in a programme held at Hotel Purbani in the capital.
The labour ministry organised the event titled ‘Capacity Building of Remediation Coordination Cell: Sharing Progress and Way Forward’ attended by the state minister for labour Md Mujibul Haque, labour secretary Afroza Khan, US ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Stephens Bloom Bernicat, EU ambassador to Bangladesh Rensje Teerink, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry president Md Shafiul Islam Mohiuddin and Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association president Md Siddiqur Rahman, among others.
‘In the fourth review meeting of Sustainability compact held at Brussels last month the issue of extending time for Accord and Alliance was discussed and the meeting was told that Bangladesh was capable to take over the responsibility of factory remediation,’ Tofail said.
He said that with the support of International Labour Organisation, the government formed RCC and already 60 engineers were appointed.
RCC would be able to take over the responsibility of factory remediation and oversee the industrial safety, the commerce minister said.
Tofail said that one of the entrepreneurs filed a case with the court against Accord and the Supreme Court has given its verdict that the continuation of Accord and Alliance will continue for six more months.
‘We cannot violate the verdict of our Supreme Court,’ he said.
After Rana Plaza building collapse, the government has taken various measures to ensure factory safety and no major incident took place in the RMG sector in last five years, Tofail said.
He said that Bangladesh was quite able to take over factory inspection and remediation.
Following the Rana Plaza Building collapse in April 2013 that killed more than 1,100 people, mostly garments workers, EU retailers formed Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh undertaking a five-year plan, while North American brands and retailers formed Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and the platform.
‘I challenge that no Rana Plaza-like incident will take place in future in the country…. and the country’s readymade garment sector no longer required Accord and Alliance as we have made significant progress in strengthening the capacity of the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments,’ state minister for labour Md Mujibul Haque said in a press briefing following the meeting.
Accord and Alliance run their factory safety initiative through Bangladeshi engineers and engineering farms. RCC also hired those Bangladeshi firms to carry out factory remediation work so there was no necessity of the two foreign initiatives, he said.
Mujibul said that the government appointed 60 engineers and they already received five-day training in corrective action plan development and follow-up of remediation.
He said that Accord and Alliance filed separate applications with Bangladesh Investment Development authorities seeking extension of their timeframe. ‘But I think the initiatives are no longer required for Bangladesh.’