The government will clear the arrears, wages and festival allowances of the state-owned jute mills workers within this week, sources said. As the workers of the state-run the jute mills across the country continued to protest to press home their nine-point demand including implementation of the wage commission and payments of arrears, wages and festival bonus, high ups of textile and jute ministry and Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) held a number of crucial meetings on Saturday in order to resolve the ongoing crisis.
“The textile and jute minister has already contacted with the Prime Minister’s Office and finance ministry. The finance ministry asked us to submit a report about the amount of dues, arrears and festival allowances of workers,” a high up of textiles and jute ministry told Bangladesh Post. According to him, BJMC is now preparing the amount of workers’ arrears, wages and bonus.
“We are expecting that we will get the figure of the workers’ arrears, wages and festival bonus within a day or two. And the workers will be given all dues, wages and festival bonus within this week,” the official said. Meanwhile, high officials of BJMC led by its chairman, Shah Muhammad Nasim on Saturday, a government weekly holyday, also held several meetings and talked to the textiles and jute minister Golam Dastagir Gazi in order to pay the dues, salaries and festival bonus to workers.
Meanwhile, the BJMC has already sought Tk 337 crore to clear the outstanding salaries of its 32,740 workers and employees until June and it will also seek an allocation of Tk 1,600 crore to implement the National Wage Scale- 2015 for its workers. According to the textiles and jute ministry, the government gave Tk 7,477 crore to the BJMC in order to bail out from the financial crisis over the decades.
In an effort to diversify products and make the jute sector profitable, the government has been providing subsidies and cash incentives to the state-owned jute mills now operating under BJMC. But mismanagement, corruption, unskilled workers, lack of coordination between the capacity and operation activities, ghost workers, additional workers than necessity, CBA’s manipulation and lack of goodwill on the part of authorities concerned are contributing to the continuous losses of these mills, according to officials of textiles and jute ministry and BJMC.
According to data of ministry of textiles and jute, BJMC incurred a loss of Tk 495 crore in the first nine months of the current fiscal year, which has already overshot last fiscal year’s losses of Tk 466 crore. Sources said BJMC faced a loss of Tk 396.97 crore in 2012-13 fiscal, Tk 513 crore in 2013-14 fiscal, Tk 729 crore in 2013-14 fiscal, Tk 656.81 crore in 2015-16 fiscal, Tk 481.51 crore in 2016-17 fiscal and Tk 466.22 crore in 2017-18 fiscal.
However, export of jute and jute products has maintained a steady growth as the country exported jute and jute goods worth $102.55 crore in fiscal year 2017-18 (FY18), up 6.56 percent from $96.24 crore of fiscal year 2016-17 (FY17). According to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), the country fetched $15.56 crore from raw jute export, $68.77 crore from jute yarn and ‘kundali’, $12.28 crore from jute sack and bag and $9.93 crore from other jute products.
As there are huge demands for Bangladesh jute and jute goods in around 60 counties in the world, the country can increase jute and jute goods export several times by diversifying the products. And the government has already taken steps in this regard. In order to reduce the loss of jute mills, the government has already taken initiatives of modernise and expand the mills. In the first phase, three jute mills will be modernised and the rest will be included in the process in phases.
Bangladeshi jute and jute-made products have a huge demand in many countries around the world, especially in Turkey, Middle East, India, Syria, Iran, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq and Thailand. Markets in African countries are also a key destination for Bangladeshi jute products. The demand for sacks is rising from African countries like Sudan, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon, Tanzania and Uganda. According to exporters, a major portion of the export or 70 per cent of the country’s jute exports is done by the private sector.