Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday asked the finance ministry to allocate Tk 1,000 crore to the textiles and jute ministry for arrear salaries and wages of jute mill workers and modernisation of the state-owned jute mills to make them profitable.
The PM in the weekly cabinet meeting at the secretariat directed Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Senior Secretary Mahbub Ahmed of the ministry to disburse the money immediately, State Minister for Textiles and Jute Mirza Azam told a press conference at his ministry.
Out of the total amount, Tk 600 crore will be spent on arrear salaries and wages of the jute mills employees while the rest on modernising the age-old jute mills owned by Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), he added.
The allocation came against the backdrop of the ongoing agitation by jute mill workers in Khulna.
The state minister said Tk 40 crore would be given to workers from today so that they can celebrate Pahela Baishakh, the first day of Bangla New Year, on Thursday. The remaining money would be handed over to the workers after a week.
He hoped the workers would call off their agitation following the allocation of the fund. “We will sit with labour leaders from the jute mills at 3:00pm tomorrow [today] to discuss the issues,” he noted.
Azam said the ministry would take back 14 jute mills from private owners which were sold out to them. A jute mill, which was sold to a private company, has already been taken back by the BJMC which now owns 27 jute mills, added the state minister.
Minister for Textiles and Jute Emaz Uddin Pramanik also spoke.
Meanwhile, jute mill workers who have been demonstrating in Khulna for the last few days yesterday said they would continue with their agitation until they received the arrear salaries and wages.
CHANGES TO HAJJ POLICY APPROVED
The cabinet approved a proposal for amending the National Hajj and Umrah Policy-2016 and Hajj Package-2016 following the Saudi government's decision to cut the number of hajj pilgrims this year.
As per the Saudi government's decision, the total number of hajj pilgrims from Bangladesh will be 1,01,758, Cabinet Secretary M Shafiul Alam told reporters after the meeting. Earlier, the number was fixed at 1,13,868.
Under the revised policy and package, the number of hajj pilgrims under government management would be 10,000, up from 5,000. Besides, a total of 91,758 pilgrims would perform hajj under private management.
Shafiul said every hajj pilgrim will have to make all their payments electronically (e-payment) while the payment for Qurbani will have to be made through the online system of the Islamic Development Bank.
Each of the pilgrims will have to collect a token for Qurbani and none will be allowed to perform the ritual on his own this year, he added.
A hajj agency will have to carry at least 150 pilgrims instead of 50. There will be three muallems in a hajj flight for 419 pilgrims, said the cabinet secretary.
Each pilgrim will have to pay 150 Saudi riyals as water cooling charge which would be adjusted from their additional service charges of 1,000 riyals.