The government on Saturday reaffirmed its decision to keep all factories and industries closed amid the strict lockdown which will begin right after Eid-ul-Azha, from July 23 until August 5.
State Minister for Public Administration Farhad Hossain made the comment during the closing parade of the 97th BGB recruit batch, held at the BGB headquarters, in Chuadanga-6 on the day.
There he said that both public and private institutions, including garments and industries are scheduled to be closed for two weeks during the strict lockdown after Eid-ul-Azha from July 23.
The state minister also said that the government has already eased enforcement of the ongoing lockdown, keeping in mind alot of business revolves around Eid-ul-Azha, so that no losses were incurred.
Asked whether the decision to uphold the decision to keep factories closed was made considering the apparel factory owners' recent appeal to the prime minister, Hossain said that it was just a reaffirmation of the original decision.
Today's speech has nothing to do with that (letter sent to the prime minister.) Only the prime minister can change any decision, he also said.
He also said that the rate of Covid-19 infection cases in the country is on the rise. Almost every day more than 12,000 people are being infected while nearly 200 people are dying due to the novel virus.
“In this situation, there is no option but to impose a strict lockdown. The economy will suffer some losses, but the decision is being made in the greater interest of the people, for their health and safety,” he also said.
But apparel manufacturers are still hopeful of a turnaround from the decision.
Shahidullah Azim, vice-president of Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), said that they are still waiting for a response on Thursday's letter.
Apparel manufacturers on Thursday sent a letter to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, pleading with her to keep apparel factories out of the lockdown purview like before, amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have already reasoned with the government that the factory closing time can be adjusted earlier. If not, we also want to reopen factories from August 1 instead of August 5,” he added.
Asked if there was any fluctuation in the rate of Covid-19 infection among the workers, he said the rate of the infection cases was very low.
“Workers maintain discipline here and they spend most of the time in the factory and the rest of the time indoors. So, the infection case is lower in the factories,” he added.
Thursday's letter also stated that apparel owners were receiving a large number of orders for spring and summer clothing from the US and Europe, and factories’ earnings have finally begun to reach pre-pandemic levels.
If the factories are closed for two weeks, they will not be able to supply the products in accordance with the lead time as per the purchase order.
Mostafiz Uddin, managing director of Chittagong-based Denim Expert Limited, told earlier that they have to export goods worth $1 million on July 29 and on August 2, 3 and 5.
“If we cannot open factories after Eid, then it will be impossible to prepare and export the products,” he added.
He also said that the factories of competitor countries are open, and in this case, if they do not ship the products on time, Bangladesh will lag behind and its image will be ruined.
The government should reconsider the decision to protect the lifeline of the country's economy, he added.