The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) placed a set of demands to the government to help face the challenges stemming from the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
Its demands included Tk 5.0 per US dollar on retention value from April to December this year to be competitive in the global market as well as three-year long interest-free loan facility for next six months.
The BGMEA, in a letter to the Prime Minister's (PM) principal secretary, sought the 14-point policy supports to offset the negative impact of the Covid-19 epidemic.
In the letter, the BGMEA President Dr Rubana Huq said the supply chain of the textile and the clothing industry has been severely disrupted since last month following the public health crisis that originated from China.
"The situation is worsening day by day, as buyers are cancelling their work orders or putting shipments and uncut fabric on hold."
The possible negative impact of the Covid-19 outbreak will include overdue payment of back to back letter of credit (L/C), late shipments, and difficulties in paying term-loan instalments, she noted.
It will be difficult for ready-made garment (RMG) owners to pay workers' monthly wages, two festival allowances, and utility bills etc for next six months due to shortage of cash.
Fearing possible delay in recovery from the crisis, she opined that the central bank should introduce a re-financing scheme for commercial banks to encourage them to support the RMG industry.
No force loan will be created, if any factory fails to pay a back to back L/C, she demanded, adding to increase loan repayment time.
The BGMEA's other demands included imposing no special interest on term loan/advance, and waiving interest on existing loans for next six months with block account facility.
Meanwhile, the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA) instructed its members to operate their factories on their own responsibility, after ensuring all required safety measures to prevent coronavirus infection.
Factories need not remain open, if there is no work order or other related works, as low crowd will help stop spreading the coronavirus contamination.
It also instructed all member units to pay monthly wages for March and other allowances timely.
Citing the government's decision of closing all public and private offices from March 26 to April 04, the BKMEA said, "Factory authority can keep their units shut, if it has no work."
There is no need to bring workers to the factories. If one worker is infected with coronavirus, the respective factory along with its adjacent units and even the whole area could be locked down, which will bring no good result for anyone.
The trade-body urged its member factories to keep their units shut, if possible, on Thursday and Friday, so that workers can conveniently purchase their daily essentials, including medicines.