Move to retrieve jute, textile units

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Rozina Islam | Oct 13, 2014

A decision has been taken to retrieve assets of the textile and jute ministry which had been handed over through irregular means for little or no cost. Assets will also be taken back from those who violated the conditions stipulated for taking over such property from the government.

Various industrial units of the textile and jute ministry are to be revived and modernised in order to reactivate the jute, textile, handloom and silk industries with fresh impetus.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina announced these decisions yesterday, Sunday, during her inspection to the textile and jute ministry. The prime minister was informed that legal action would be taken against those involved in unlawful privatisation, selling and handing over of assets.

The recently removed minister Abdul Latif Siddique had been in charge of the textile and jute ministry from 2009 to 2013. During his tenure, there had been irregularities in the handover of 46 of 48 units. Of these, 30 units were handed over fully and the hand over of the remaining 16 is underway. Twelve were sold without any tender documents.

Ministry officials say such irregularities have harmed public interest. The privatisation commission has also voiced their objection, saying that according to the regulations, no ministry or corporation can carry out privatisation without the commission.

A committee formed by the Prime Minister’s Office holds the minister responsible for these irregularities. It says that in almost all the cases, the units were handed over through non-transparent means without tender documents and for little or no cost. The regulations were violated in most of the handovers.

State minister for textiles and jute Mirza Azam tells Prothom Alo, “Assets which were handed over in violation of the rules will be taken back. Even if the assets were handed over permanently, they will be taken back if the rules were not followed. We have begun working on the matter in accordance to recommendations of the prime minister’s office. In some cases the law ministry’s advice has been sought. Action will also be taken against those who have hurt public interest by these unlawful transactions.”

At the meeting chaired by the prime minister it was decided that Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) would modernise and revive 26 jute mills. It was also decided that a limited company would be formed and shares would be sold, with a number of units kept under government control.

BJMC is limping along with machinery of over 50 years old. There is lack of proper research and marketing for jute products. Cultivators were losing interest in growing jute. The prime minister said that the mills must be modernised and all necessary steps be taken to resolve these issues.

There are presently about 500 thousand hand-operated looms of which about 200 thousand are out of order. The prime minister instructed that the benarasi and handloom zone be moved to a site near Dhaka and housing facilities be arranged for the weavers. Other decisions included the establishment of a handloom bank, handloom building and other measures to revive the popularity of hand woven textiles.

The meeting discussed similar measures to revive the silk industry.