The government has decided to shut down production at 25 state-run jute mills under Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) by providing cent percent dues of some 25,000 workers.
The decision came at a meeting at the Gono Bhaban yesterday, with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Briefing reporters at the Prime Minister's Office, PM's Principal Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus said, "Our BJMC can't be viable competing with the private sector. These 25 mills can't run properly. That's why some 25,000 workers of the mills have been suffering as they are not getting salaries and dues in time.... So, the prime minister announced the shutdown of production at the state-run jute mills."
He said cent percent dues of workers would be given at the quickest possible time and it would require Tk 5,000 crore. "The workers will be given their dues in line with the national wage structure of 2015."
The principal secretary said the 25 mills would be reopened after refurbishing those with modern technologies under different types of ventures -- PPP, G2G, joint venture or lease model.
"The prime minister gave directives to place a proposal before her soon on how the closed jute mills can be restarted and can survive competing with local and international markets," he said.
There are now 26 jute mills under BJMC, but the decision regarding one --Monowar Jute Mills -- was not taken as there was a case over the mills, said Textiles and Jute Secretary Lokman Hossain Miah at the briefing.
Ahmad Kaikaus said the PM is always against shutdown of any mills or factory and she reopened many closed mills during her tenures. "The prime minister became emotional while giving her consent. But the reality is that these 25 mills can't run properly and the normal life of the workers concerned have been hampered."
Noting that the demand for jute is on rise across the world, he said the premier financed the research over the genome sequencing of jute and promotes its multipurpose uses.
The principal secretary said BJMC incurred losses in 44 years out of 48 after 1972-73 fiscal year. "The cumulative loss of the BJMC stood at Tk 10,674 crore in 2018-19 fiscal year [since 1972]."
"The prime minister took the decision for the sake of the greater interest and the interest of the workers," he said.
Talking about payment procedures, Ahmad Kaikaus said the payments would directly be sent to the workers' bank accounts.
The PM has directed the officials concerned to prepare the list of workers of the state-run jute mills within three days and send their dues directly to their bank accounts, he said, adding that BJMC has started the process of enlisting the workers.
He said all the dues of 8,956 already retired workers would also be paid.
Workers having dues of up to Tk 2 lakh will get one-time full payment in cash, while the rest of the employees having dues of above Tk 2 lakh will get 50 percent payment in cash and savings certificates against the remaining 50 percent payment. On average, each worker will get Tk 13.86 lakh, he added.
PMO Secretary Md Tofazzal Hossain Miah and high officials of the textiles and jute ministry were present at the briefing.