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BGMEA election board chief steps down

  • Published at 12:56 am March 11th, 2021
Syed Ferhat Anwar IBA
Syed Ferhat Anwar Collected

BGMEA sources and contesting candidates said the resignation came following a disagreement centring the placement of candidates' names on the ballot paper

Syed Ferhat Anwar has resigned from his position as election board chairman for the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA).

Anwar, director of the Dhaka University's Institute of Business Administration, submitted his resignation letter to BGMEA President Rubana Huq on Wednesday.

As a part of the biennial election procedure of the garment sector's apex trade body, on February 4, the BGMEA formed a board headed by Anwar. The election to select the BGMEA's new committee for 2021-23 is scheduled to be held on April 4.

"We have received the resignation letter and he cited personal reasons," Huq told Dhaka Tribune.

However, sources at the BGMEA and contesting candidates said the resignation came following a disagreement centring on the placement of candidates' names on the ballot paper.

Usually, the names of contestants are placed through a lottery and the winner gets the priority in placing their names on top or as they wish.

On the ballot paper, the winning panel gets to place the names of its candidates from 1 to 35, while the other team members' names are placed from 36 to 70.

The election commission held a lottery to place the names of candidates and declared a panel winner. But the losing panel was not present during the lottery, a candidate said seeking anonymity.

Later, the panel raised questions about the transparency of the lottery and sought clarification about the process. Following a debate on the matter, Anwar tendered in his resignation, he added.

Meanwhile, another candidate and a current leader of the BGMEA board termed the resignation as “very sad”.

He also said an association must hold on to its integrity and image.

However, leaders from both panels said the resignation would not push back the polling schedule. Anwar will be replaced by a member from the election board, they said.

Two panels -- the Sammilita Parishad and Forum -- will contest in what is being considered the most important election of the association in recent memory. 

In 2020, garments, which brings home the lion’s share of export earnings, posted a 17 per cent drop in receipts to $27.5 billion. And the trend continued into the new year: in January apparel export receipts contracted 4.7 per cent year-on-year to $2.9 billion and in February 5.4 per cent to $2.6 billion.

Even if shipments pick up, Vietnam and India are biting at Bangladesh’s heels for the number two spot in the global apparel trade.

These suggest the road ahead is bumpy, and an assured leadership on the sector’s apex trade body is needed to steer through the uncharted territory.

Faruque Hassan, a former senior vice-president of the BGMEA, will lead the Sammilita Parishad, while ABM Shamsuddin, a former vice-president of the trade body, will lead Forum.