Bangladesh making ‘masterplan’ to boost productivity at factories

BDApparelNews Desk
30 April 2019  

Workers working inside an apparel factory in Bangladesh.

Workers working inside an apparel factory in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is devising a “masterplan” to boost productivity at its apparel factories, the dominating export sector of the country that is worth over US $30 billion.

A three-member panel of experts from Thailand and Singapore are expected to arrive in Dhaka on May 1, 2019 to offer consultation on drafting the “National Productivity Masterplan for Bangladesh”. They will discuss with stakeholders of the industry to draft the “masterplan”.

Later, the “masterplan” will be finalised upon their recommendation.

The contents and purpose of this “masterplan” was discussed at a training programme for institutions enlisted with the Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Assocaition (BKMEA) on April 30, 2019, says a press release of the commerce ministry.

The daylong training programme on “techniques to boost productivity” was arranged at the ministry of commerce and organised by National Productivity Organisation. Talks shed light on 27 tools and techniques to help boost productivity at factories.

If this long-term plan is implemented, experts hope, it will boost productivity not only at the apparel factories, but also at the other manufacturing and processing sectors in Bangladesh.

Such “masterplan” is expected to improve efficiency at factories, which in turn is expected to increase competitiveness of Bangladesh’s factories – particularly in the apparel sector – at the international market. Eventually, this will create a robust export growth.

Among those who spoke at the training programme were National Productivity Organisation Director SM Ashrafuzzaman, BKMEA Senior Vice President Monsur Ahmed, BKMEA Director Mohammad Mostafa Monowar, and a number of experts in productivity.

WHY BANGLADESH NEEDS PRODUCTIVITY BOOST

Bangladesh’s apparel sector, a sector that occupies around 83 per cent of the country’s export basket, aims to touch US $50 billion in exports by 2021. Though the target is in doubt, apparel manufacturers are marching towards that goal in optimism.

However, there are several curbs to reaching the goal – starting from internal problems like infrastructure, energy and power and going up to the issue of fair pricing from buyers abroad with the stigma of industrial disasters like Rana Plaza and Tazreen Fashion fire.

However, one key aspect where there is room for improvement is the efficiency of the workers. Manufacturers say that low skilled workers of Bangladesh are not productive enough. They say the efficiency level of the workers of Bangladesh is between 40 per cent to 45 per cent – much lower compared to competing countries like Vietnam and Sri Lanka.

Also, apparel manufacturers have recently raised the wages of the workers in Bangladesh. This is one sector they have identified that can cover up the additional costs and bring in fat profits. Meanwhile, this will serve even more if Bangladesh manages to properly brand its apparel products in the apparel market.