Backyard garment factories need more support

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Sunday, 19 February 2012 Author / Source :

ANISUR RAHMAN KHAN, BACK FROM SYEDPUR

DHAKA, FEB 18: At least 2,000 small backyard factories in Syedpur of Nilphamari district are producing high-quality apparels from rejected fabrics of upscale factories in Dhaka and Chittagong. Although these factories contribute a sizeable amount to the exchequer by earning hard currency through exports, they face daily hassles and cannot get bank loan for not having any permanent address.Most of these factories operate from leased out railway land dotting the town.

About 40,000 people work in these small enterprises with a turnover of more than Tk. 1 crore.These factories produce full and three-quarter pants, trousers, jackets and shirts round the clock, said Saidur Rahman, general secretary of the Exportable Small Garment Owners’ Association (ESGOA) in Syedpur. “Given a little logistical support, we’ll be able to double the export volume,” added Rahman, also the owner of SR Garments.Despite having 42 regular and 200 associate members, ESGOA cannot opt for bank loans as the factories are located on railway land without any permanent address. “We need a permanent site to build a garment village and hope that the government will give special priority in this regard,” Rahman noted.Currently, the backyard factories are producing 90,000 pieces of garment under the duty-free export quota. Owners of these factories, however, want the government to increase the duty-free quota for their exports as demands for their items are growing abroad, mainly in India, Bhutan and Nepal.Members of ESGOA said that they are unable to meet the rising demand for their products abroad, as the government has allocated a small duty-free export quota for them.But some help has already started flowing from the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Foundation. It provided the factories with loans of Tk. 1.5 crore last year.Syed Rezwanul Kabir, managing director of the SME Foundation, told The Independent that the foundation has started highlighting the importance of quality control to some factory owners.“We’ll provide more funds and other logistical support to factory owners for expanding their business, so that they can earn more foreign currency by raising their exports,” he said.Kabir further said that owners of the backyard factories in Syedpur had earned about USD 4 lakh last year from garment exports. Shahidul Islam, owner of SH Garment, has set up such factories in Munsipara, Shaheb Para, Basbari and Puratan Babu Para. He said the nation is earning valuable foreign currency through these factories.“At least 42 association members have received SME loans, ranging from Tk. 3 lakh to Tk, 7 lakh, from the National Credit and Commerce Bank Ltd. We hope the government will provide more logistic support, including allocation of land, to boost exports,” Islam added.