Update November 14, 2015

Dhaka 5-25 pm, 22-June, 2021

Muhiths no to plea for BJMC funding

Sumel Sarker

Finance Minister AMA Muhith

Muhiths no to plea for BJMC funding

14 November 2015, Nirapad News: The government has turned down a plea of the ministry of textiles and jute (MoTJ) seeking Tk 3.0 billion (300 crore) for Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) for buying raw jute and providing gratuity to its labourers, officials said.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith wrote ‘sorry’ on the letter sent to him by State Minister for MoTJ Mirza Azam seeking the fund, they added.

The MoTJ has sought two allocations — Tk 2.0 billion and Tk 1.0 billion –for procurement of raw jute and providing gratuity to the labourers and officials respectively, an official of the ministry of finance (MoF) said.

“Some Tk 3.0 billion is badly needed for the cash-strapped BJMC to procure raw jute and provide gratuity

to its labourers and officials,” a high official of the BJMC told the FE on Friday.

The mills under the state-owned BJMC would not be able to collect necessary raw jute and provide due payment to the jute providers because of the lack of required fund, he said.

At present the demand for jute sacks has increased across the country due to use of jute products made mandatory under the related act for which raw jute is very much necessary.

Most recently, the finance minister suggested that the MoTJ should abolish the BJMC, sources said.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, in a letter in late October last, made the suggestion and said instead of the BJMC, a small cell at the ministry could look after the private jute mills, which were handed over to the BJMC through nationalisation in 1972.

These mills are supposed to be run under the public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement, he said. “I don’t see any role of the BJMC in the operation of the mills. Rather, it controls the mills and creates barriers to jute procurement in time. It often delays various positive activities of the mills. Thus these fail to make any profit,” he wrote in the letter.

Referring to the Aleem Jute Mills Ltd, Mr Muhith said the mill could not be opened because of the BJMC’s actions resulting in an increase in its debt by Tk 540 million in six months.

“My proposal is to abolish the BJMC and a small cell in the ministry can monitor, inspect and assess the mills operating under PPP,” he said.

The owner of the Aleem Jute Mills Ltd has not been handed over the mill since its nationalisation in 1972. Of the 30 jute mills found eligible for hand-over to their former private sector owners, 29 were transferred except the Aleem Jute Mills.

At one stage, following a writ petition, the higher court asked the BJMC to hand over the mill to its owner. Later, in April 2015, the corporation signed two agreements with managing director of the mill Zaglul Mahmud, but did not hand it over as yet.

Mr Mahmud in a recent letter to Mr Muhith said debt of the mill increased by Tk 540 million in last six months as some corrupt officials of the BJMC were blocking its hand-over and misappropriating its money.

Meanwhile, Mr Muhith in the letter sent to the jute minister requested him to take steps for immediately handing over the mill and help operate it independently.

Presently, some 26 jute mills are being operated under the BJMC’s arrangement and one remains closed.

Chairman of BJMC Maj Gen Humayun Khaled could not be contacted despite several attempts made over phone for his comment on the issue.

When contacted, Director of BJMC Col (Retd) K Lenin Kamal declined to make any comment as he did not know much about the issue.

The millers under BJMC are passing a hard time due to fund constraints. On the other hand, the jute mills are incurring heavy losses. The mills’ performances are absolutely unsatisfactory. Apart from that the BJMC has failed to meet the conditions in respect to an earlier financing, a senior official of the MoF said.

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