The RMG sector central fund are not getting the expected amount of deposit as a good number of factories including the units located in the country’s export processing zones refrain from contributing to the workers’ welfare fund, labour ministry officials said.
They said the government started collecting 0.03 per cent of freight on board prices from the RMG factory owners on July 1, 2016 for the fund and the fund received Tk 100 crore in last two financial years, which was Tk 47.68 crore less than the expected amount.
The officials said the contribution to the RMG sector central fund in the financial years (2016-17 and 2017-18) should have been Tk 147.68 crore as the export earnings from the readymade garment sector totalled $58.76 billion in the two fiscal years.
Under the section 232 (3) of the amended labour law 2013, the government formed the RMG sector central fund in March, 2016.
The law stipulates that the government will, in the cases of hundred per cent export-oriented industrial sectors or hundred per cent foreign exchange investing sectors, make, by rules, the provisions for constitution of a fund, constitution of the fund management board, determination of the amount of grant and manner of its collection and utilisation of the fund and the necessary provisions for other ancillary matters, centrally in each such sector, consisting of the buyers and employers, for the beneficiaries working in the respective sectors.
According to the labour rules that came into effect on September 15, 2015, the export-oriented factories will contribute 0.03 per cent of their freight on board prices to the fund while the contribution from the government and buyers would be voluntary.
AMM Anisul Awal, director general of the Bangladesh Labour Welfare Foundation Fund, said that they had received Tk 100 crore for the RMG central fund in last two financial years.
We received at least Tk 20-22 crore less than the legally binding amount per year as lien banks of the export-oriented garment companies didn’t properly deduct the amount meant for the fund from the exporters,’ he said.
Anisul also said that the RMG factories located in the EPZs were not contributing to the fund.
He hoped that the deposit in the fund would increase in the current fiscal year (2018-19) as Bangladesh Bank had already instructed all banks to deduct the amount meant for the fund from the export value properly.
On May 29, the central bank asked all banks to ensure deduction of 0.03 per cent of the encashed export value from the export-oriented RMG factories for the RMG sector central fund as labour secretary Afroza Khan in a letter informed the BB that the amount of deposit in the fund was not satisfactory due to non-collection of the fund by the banks.
‘The factories affiliated with Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association would make their contribution to the central fund not the factories located in the EPZs,’ Nazma binte Alamgir, general manager (public relations) at the Bangladesh Export Processing Zones Authority, told New Age on Thursday.
She said that laws for the factories located in the EPZs and outside the EPZs were completely different.
BEPZA factories do not contribute to the central fund and never receive any benefit from the fund as the authority has its own fund for the welfare of workers, Nazma said.
As per the rules, the money would be deposited equally in two accounts under central fund –– one is beneficiary account and the other is contingency account.
Grants for workers or their family members will be taken from the beneficiary account while the amount deposited in the contingency account will be used to meet the premiums of the group insurance and the dues of workers of any closed factory if its owner is unable to pay the workers.
According to BLWFF data, some 1,336 families of injured or dead workers of different factories received Tk 26.39 crore from the fund while Tk 10 lakh was disbursed among the workers of a garment factory as their outstanding wages.
The BGMEA received about Tk 50 crore from the fund to meet insurance claims of workers of its member factories, according to the data.