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NEWS & VIEWS SPICE BUSINES S


around 17% of its GDP. Surging wages and inflation in China, the world’s largest clothing supplier, have prompted retailers to shift production to Bangladesh creating a garment industry worth around US$ 18 billion a year. Its position is based primarily on being cheaper than alternatives like China, but also Turkey. But while low costs and skills are its strength, the industry has been the subject of criticism for its poor record on pay, limited workers rights,


employing child labour and general working conditions. The big companies, like Primark, that source clothing from Bangladesh have come under fire in the wake of the tragedy, with some alleging that they have the ability through their buying power to influence worker safety. No doubt they have a role to play, but they are not the real villains of this piece. Indeed, the reality is more


complex. Many believe that the root of the problem lies in the unhealthy relationship between politicians in Bangladesh and the politically supported gang leaders who control these industrial units and who often abuse their powers. Close connections


with a ruling political party can make such gang leaders almost untouchable by the police and members of regulatory authorities who are afraid for their jobs if they take action. It is reported that Mr Rana was such a gang leader, and was also the leader of the local youth division of the ruling Awami League party. As such he was well connected with members of the government and this may account for the fact that the building is believed to have been increased in height, and converted into a factory building, without any building control or planning permission. Rana’s permit to construct the building was from the Savar Municipal


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