Business Desk: The RMG sector employs more than four million people, mostly women

The president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), Rubana Huq, has urged the owners to consider closing their factories as the nation is fighting to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In a message on Thursday, she said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina gave specific guidance to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and asked to take cautionary steps for the safety and wellbeing of everyone.

“Following the prime minister, we should set an example as we are the country’s largest industry. We hope you will consider shutting down factories in due time,” she told the owners.

Bangladesh, the second largest exporter of readymade goods after China, earns the majority of its foreign currencies from this sector, which employs more than four million people, mostly women.

When coronavirus outbreak disrupted global supply chain and led to cancellation of orders and delay in shipment, the BGMEA had turned to the government for help.

So far, 959 factories have reported that 826.42 million pieces, $2.67 billion worth of export, have either been cancelled or held up, affecting an estimated 1.95 million workers.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday, however, announced a stimulus package of Tk5,000 crore for the export-oriented industries to overcome the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This money will be used to pay the salaries and allowances of the workers and employees only.

“Thank you Prime Minister for your endless empathy for our workers and industry,” BGMEA President Rubana had said in an immediate reaction.

Until now, Bangladesh has recorded a total of 44 Covid-19 cases. However, 11 of them have already returned home after recovering fully, taking the number of active cases to 33.

The country has also seen five deaths so far from the new strain of coronavirus, which originated from China’s Wuhan city in late December last year.

There have been more than 492,200 Covid-19 cases and 22,100 deaths in 198 countries and territories around the world until now, according to worldometer.