The Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh has launched a remediation fund to provide financial assistance to garment factory owners to help them improve safety standards. The Accord will directly contribute 50 percent of the remediation fund, according to a statement. However, it did not give details of the fund.“The Accord Remediation Fund will provide qualified suppliers with access to direct funding for 50 percent of the remaining remediation costs for covered factories with no current Accord business,” said Joris Oldenziel, head of public affairs of the Accord at its office in the Netherlands.“This direct support is limited and will be implemented on a ‘first-come first-served’ basis.”Oldenziel added: “We need to ensure that major and costly safety measures, such as protected fire exits, fire alarms and fire protection systems and structural retrofitting work can and will be remediated urgently.”Local garment makers have spent more than $1 billion for remediation to strengthen workplace safety since the collapse of Rana Plaza in April 2013.The Accord is a legally binding five-year agreement of 220 European retailers and brands and it is entering its fifth year of operation in Bangladesh.The signatory companies are committed to supporting the factories they source from, said the statement of the Accord.In the fifth year, the Accord’s major focus will be to establish safety committees at factories and organise training programmes at as many factories as possible. It will also seek to effectively address safety complaints filed at factory-level safety committees or through the Accord safety complaints mechanism.Looking beyond 2018, apparel brands and retailers and unions are in discussions on how to best ensure that safety regulations and rights in the garment industry in Bangladesh are adequately upheld and further developed, the statement said.The Accord wants to extend its tenure by three more years after the expiry of the current agreement in June 2018.“The initiative of forming a separate fund for remediation is too late because many factories are already near completion of the remediation,” said Mahmud Hasan Khan Babu, vice president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association.So far, no garment factory has received any financial assistance from the Accord signatories for remediation purposes, although they were supposed to provide such support as per the commitments made in the charter of the Accord, Babu added.He said many of the Accord signatories have severed business ties with many factories due to slow progress in the remediation.More than 1,800 factories under the Accord banner have received initial fire, electrical and structural safety inspections. Over 100,000 safety hazards were identified at the factories inspected.