In a bid to ensure safety, transparency and accountability in readymade garments (RMG) sector, the government has finalised a guideline for the subcontracting factories. The guideline was formulated as per the National Tripartite Plan of Action (NTP) on Fire Safety and Structural Integrity in the RMG sector in Bangladesh. The Ministry of Commerce issued a circular in this regard on May 27 last. Against the backdrop of a devastating fire incident at a subcontracting factory named Tazreen Fashion Limited on 24 November 2012 that killed more than 112 garment workers, the government adopted the NTP and promised to formulate subcontracting guidelines. The Subcontracting Guidelines 2019 says the government-set minimum wages be ensured for the workers in the subcontracting factories and the structural designs of the factories be approved by the authorities concerned, and only the compliant factories will be eligible for the subcontracting jobs. The RMG factories willing to work as subcontractors must be affiliated with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Bangladesh Knitwear Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BKMEA). Workers of the subcontracting factories must get group insurance coverage and the factory authorities will pay the premiums on a regular basis, the guidelines added. According to the guidelines the apex trade bodies namely BGMEA and BKMEA will have to submit report on the activities of subcontracting factories to the commerce ministry and the National Board of Revenue in every six months. If any party violates the guidelines, the Commerce Ministry, BGMEA and BKMEA can suspend services relating to production and export temporarily or permanently to any party involved in the subcontracting process, it reads. According to the BGMEA official website, presently it has around 4,500 member factories. Forty per cent of them are knitwear and sweater manufacturers and the remaining 60 per cent are woven garment makers. On the other hand, more than 1,300 factories are registered with the BKMEA. According to the Department of Inspection for Factories and Establishments, about 1,000 garment factories operating in the country are not affiliated with any of the trade bodies. While talking to journalists BKMEA vice president Fazlee Shamim Ehsan welcomed the move of the government. “Once the subcontracting factories register with the associations, the apex trade bodies will be able to monitor their activities. We hope the guidelines will play a positive role for the wellbeing of the RMG sector,” he said.