Bangladesh factories close for World Cup

Dhaka, Feb 27 (AFP) Bangladesh garment export firms todayprotested against government orders to shut down factoriesduring the cricket World Cup, saying the move would affect thecountry''s economy.

Garment factories have been instructed to close for sixhours every evening until the final on April 2 so that powercuts do not affect avid cricket fans watching the games ontelevision at home.

"We have told the factories about the government decisionand asked them to shut their plants in the peak power hours,"Manjur Rahman, head of state-owned Dhaka Electric SupplyCompany, said.

The order has enraged the country''s 5,000 garmentexporters, who employ millions of Bangladeshis making cheapclothes to be sold overseas for Western brands such as H&M andLevi''s.

The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and ExportersAssociation (BGMEA) wrote a letter to the prime minister andthe minister of power, saying the evening shutdowns threatenedthe country''s business image.

"We have said the order to shut factories has alreadystarted affecting the garment factories. We won''t be able toship our products in time if the order is not scrappedimmediately," said BGMEA president Abdus Salam Murshedy.

"All the companies have been booked with export orders.

If they can''t export the orders in time, it will obviouslyanger the buyers. Our reputation as a top garment exporterwill be seriously dented," he told AFP.

Apparel export is the backbone of Bangladesh''s economy,accounting for 80 percent of all the country''s exports. Thefactories employ more than three million workers, mostlywomen.

"The whole economy will be affected because of thisanti-industry step. We are great cricket fans, but that doesnot mean that we shall shut factories just to watch World Cupmatches," Murshedy said.

Bangladesh is struggling to tackle a major power crisiswith regular outages as demand far outstrips supply.

The government took similar step during the soccer WorldCup in 2010 as power blackouts during key matches saw tens ofthousands of people stage violent protests, vandalising poweroffices and damaging cars.

Along with India and Sri Lanka, the country is a co-hostof the World Cup cricket, which started in Dhaka on February19.

On Friday night fans across the country erupted incelebration after Bangladesh beat Ireland in a nerve-wrackingmatch. (AFP) AT

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