No Time For Bangladesh

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VVD MP René Leegte accused Foreign Trade and Development Minister Lilianne Ploumen of spending too much time focused on Bangladesh in the aftermath of a recent building collapse at a clothing and textile factory complex.

The disaster caused the death of more than 1100 people.

Following the collapse, Ploumen claimed businesses in western nations of putting too much pressure on the price, making it almost impossible for the factories to take good care for their employees. In her official capacity she has also addressed the poor working conditions and lax safety standards in the textile sector in Bangladesh.

In comments to Parliament, Leegte told fellow MPs of difficulties colleagues have had in scheduling a meeting with the minister to have a discussion about her work in general. He says that this is due to Ploumen's efforts on Bangladesh, something Leegte believes takes up too much of the minister's time.

He also thinks that the 9 million euro, which Ploumen budgeted to support the Bangladesh labour unions and independent inspectors, is too much.

After the minister's Bangladesh initiative began, businesses in the Netherlands announced to spend 5 million euro to support her plan.

According to MP Leegte it is not all necessary because the textile factories in Bangladesh have promised to improve the conditions. “Let the Bangladesh government take care for the welfare of their own citizens and the factories should take their responsibilities,” said Leegte.


Bangladesh is one of the most densely populated countries in the world with about 150 million inhabitants. Poverty is widespread, and more than half of the population have to live on less than a dollar a day. Bangladesh is also frequently struck by floods and typhoons.

The government has reduced population growth and improved health and education, but still the per capita income in 2010 was US$641 compared to the world average of $8,985.

The country's textile industry is the biggest in the world, with some seeing it as an important tool the country has in its arsenal to fight poverty in the longterm. About three million people have a job in the textile sector, of which 90 percent are women.