Tuesday, March 20, 2018 | ePaper

A cohesive policy for jute sector

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The conflicting statements by Finance Minister AMA Muhith to close the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) and its mills for making huge loss and State Minister for Jute and Textile Mirza Azam's remarks that the Finance Ministry and World Bank are blocking moves to rejuvenate the jute sector is highly misleading and confusing the nation. Jute is a major sector mainly industrial but partly agricultural providing livelihood to factory workers and several millions farmers as cash crop. So people believe the government Ministries and policy makers should work on a cohesive policy and plan to make the jute sector profitable. 
There is no doubt jute industry must be fully revived and made profitable. Even the Prime Minister said jute is yet to unleash its full potentials to become a major player in the economy. So there should not be any difference between policymakers. What is important, the jute sector needs to be saved from highly politicized trade union linked to the ruling party. Its leaders and workers are cause of systematic loss by BJMC run jute mills and when the Finance Minister speaks of closing the mills, in fact he voices his anger about it.

We suggest there must be a through jute sector study to make projections on the due role of jute that the diversification of its products may achieve to contribute to the development of economy.  It is true BJMC run mills are less efficient under highly corrupt management where unruly trade union leaders and workers are stealing money and making illegal fortune. Muhith's comment made his concerns clear. The Jute sector can't go indefinitely as loss making to continue on government subsidy. We must say the Jute sector needs to be modernized, not the mills to be closed. Jute and jute products like environmentally friendly jute sacks has demand world wide and there is hardly any scope to abandon the industry.

We must not forgot during mid-nineties when the structural adjustment programme developed by World Bank forced many public sector jute mills to be closed, jute mills on the Indian side quickly sprang up to use cheaper jute available from Bangladesh as raw materials to produce yarn and such other export products. Now we are a big exporter of jute to India and India is levying counter-veiling duty on import of jute goods from Bangladesh to deny fair price. Such action should be enough for us to learn how to put in place a time befitting policy for jute sector, which will reduce waste and help to diversify products for exports.        

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