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Govt can`t pay for losing jute mills

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23rd-Oct-2017       
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 A LEADING daily reported Sunday that the Textiles and Jute Ministry has demanded to the Finance Ministry for allocating Tk 800 crore in loan so that it can pay workers and employees of state-owned jute mills the allowances that remained overdue for years. The jute industry is a losing concern for years but the government has stopped privatization of jute mills and even taken back some previously sold to private buyers to please union leaders who see the industry easy ground for looting. But the income of the industry is not enough to pay expenditure and most mills are running on subsidy. Consequently workers going on retirement have become the worst sufferers as the Ministry has failed to provide retirement benefits to the workers and the situation is aggravating every year.

It must be emphasized that workers have their right to get the retirement benefits in full so long they are in government pay roll. If anything is responsible, it is the populist labour policy of the government, which has not only reversed the previous privatization programmer and added to its liability by taking back some mills. The Jute Ministry has now decided to take fund from the budget under the cover of loan that may never be recovered as earlier cases suggest.

But the question is why tax-payers' money should be offered to pay for inefficiency of mill management and government failure to profitably run the mills. It is not acceptable in absence of a proper accountability mechanism to hold specific mill management the higher authorities liable for the failure. Incompetent government leaders are sheltering the corrupt system, dishonest people and spilled over liabilities often passing its load on the state exchequer at the end. Such overdue pay and allowances are also causing endless suffering to people in many other sectors such as retiring school and college teachers. The government has not created matching fund to add to their pension fund and such teachers are waiting for years to get the overdue benefits. Many are dying while waiting.   

As per reports Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation woes Tk 773.93 crore to workers in terms of gratuity, provident fund and dearness allowances to 70,000 workers and 5500 employees of 26 mills and three other mills. According to BJMC statistics, the state-owned jute mills produce 1.46 lakh tonnes of jute goods per year and export 96,523 tonnes of the produce. But why they are losing is the big question.

We believe the government should review its policy and put loss-making mills to private owners to make them competitive and profiteering. But care should also be taken that privatization does not shelter dishonest people who may turn land of the mills to real estate business instead of modernizing the mills. We can't allow foul play with our jute industry. It must be competitive to stay in business.


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