Leaders of the existing Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) are inactive and not friendly to readymade garment manufacturers in the country, a group of apparel makers alleged Thursday. The allegation came during an introduction programme of a new panel for the BGMEA election 2017-18, they said. There must be a free, fair and credible election for a business-friendly leadership. Terming the recent terms of the BGMEA leadership selected, the convener of the panel said this process could not be made effective and efficient. Managing director of Design and Source Ltd. Md Jahangir Alam was made the convener of the nine-member panel for the BGMEA election. He announced the panel at a press briefing at a hotel in Dhaka. Other garment manufacturers and exporters in the panel are Md Aminul Islam of Venix Bangladesh Ltd, Shahidur Rahman of Nova Apparels Ltd, Golam Mawla Chowdhury of Parents Sweater Ltd, Omar Faruq of Alliance Apparels Ltd, Ayesha Akter of Waymart Apparels Ltd, Mahmud Hossain, D K Global Fashion Ltd, Ansarul Alam Lincon of Ajra Enterprise and Humayun Rashid Jhony of Olira Fashion Ltd. Speaking at the press conference, he said there were around 4,000 members in the BGMEA only a few years back, now the number came down to 2,000. “The current leadership is following certain kinds of policies so that smaller RMG manufacturers get out from the RMG association,” he said adding that it cannot happen. The present leadership also stands in the way of entering the association, he said. He also said that if his panel gets elected, they will make rules simpler and small manufacturers and exporters will have their say in the association. He also held the present leadership responsible for letting small apparel factories get smaller or perish gradually due to ACCORD and ALLIANCE programmes. Replying to a question, Mr Alam said his panel wants election. There will not be any compromise or arbitration before the election. “The leadership must come through the election,” he said. “There is no alternative to the election for an effective and efficient leadership, he added. The new platform’s election manifesto includes, among other things, making nomination fees Tk 5,000 instead of present Tk 70,000 and providing all sorts of assistance to small garment factories. The election is scheduled to be held on March 07 this year.