Bangladesh’s finance minister has set aside no new money for factory safety improvements in the coming year, contrary to expectations after the latest in a series of tragic garment factory incidents–the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in April, which left 1,129 workers dead.
On Thursday, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith revealed his 2013-2014 budget. Speaking to Reuters, at least one unnamed senior finance ministry official suggested that this budget would include funds for additional building inspectors, and to buy land for the relocation of dangerous factories.
But while Muhith pledged to “take all measures possible,” to prevent the reoccurrence of the deadly incidents, no money has been earmarked for these preventative measures.
Muhith did announce a 20% reduction in import duties on woven fabrics, which will give a significant new advantage to garment exporters, and will help Bangladesh meet its new target, also announced Thursday, of 7.2% economic growth. The government will also raise the minimum wage for garment workers, which is currently set at $38 per month.
Bangladesh’s economy has suffered in the last twelve months, largely due to upheaval within the garment industry, which employs four million workers, and is the country’s primary economic driver. In the fiscal year ending on June 30, Bangladesh’s GDP grew by only 6%–the lowest growth in three years.