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BKMEA rejects TIB report on apparel industry

Rejecting the Transparency International Bangladesh’s findings on the garment sector, knitwear makers yesterday said the report will encourage “conspiracy” at the local and international levels against the country’s highest export earner. Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association or BKMEA alleged that the TIB report might be part of a conspiracy against the apparel industry. “The TIB report surprises and frustrates us simultaneously,” BKMEA President AKM Selim Osman said in a statement. On Thursday, the TIB released a report that said the supply chain of the garment industry, the country’s biggest export earner, is plagued by irregularities and corruption, for which the international apparel buyers are also responsible. The BKMEA said 70 firms or individuals, who were interviewed by the TIB, did not represent the practical and structural activities of 5,500 industries in the sector. “We doubt whether the report reflects the overall garment industry.” Most surprisingly, it said, the TIB did not discuss with the BKMEA or Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association at any stage of the preparation of the report. The association categorically stated that it will not endorse the TIB’s study, which is destructive to Bangladesh’s image and will affect the economy and the export-oriented garment industry. In its report, the TIB mentioned that it had detected anomalies at 16 stages — from order placement to shipment — across the apparel supply chain. According to the anti-corruption watchdog, irregularities and corruption at different stages of the chain have become almost a custom in some cases. And various stakeholders, including factory owners, buyers, auditors and inspectors, are involved in it, the TIB said. “We are habituated to blaming our factory owners, exporters and government employees. But buyers, who are buying and making profits, are no less responsible for irregularities,” TIB Executive Director Dr Iftekharuzzaman said at a press conference at the watchdog’s head office in the capital on Thursday. But the BKMEA rejected all the findings and sought the prime minister’s guidance in this regard. “If we take into account the anomalies in the 16 stages detected by the TIB, the efforts of the Alliance and Accord on safety standards will become worthless,” the BKMEA said in the statement. The Alliance, Accord and the International Labour Organisation have so far inspected 3,496 factories, of which only 2 percent of them failed to meet the safety requirements. “It shows that Bangladesh’s garment industry has succeeded in resetting itself in line with the international standards.” Earlier on Friday, the BGMEA also rejected the TIB findings on garment supply chain and said the report is baseless and intends to damage the sector’s image.