Jute traders ask BJMC to pay Tk150cr arrears
The country's small jute traders yesterday asked state-run Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) to immediately pay Tk 150 crore in arrears.
The small traders continued supply of raw jute to the BJMC on credit until the government's recent decision of purchasing raw jute directly from farmers.
The BJMC owes Tk 150 crore to the small jute traders until fiscal year 2006-07.
Terming the present jute purchase policy 'totally wrong', they said such policy would help destroy the remaining potential of the country's jute sector.
In the current fiscal year, the government introduced the new policy to purchase raw jute directly from the farmers with cash, abolishing its earlier system of purchasing jute from the small traders or otherwise known as middlemen.
"We will be compelled to go for legal action against the BJMC if it fails to pay our dues soon," said Md Yunus Mia, president of Bangladesh Small Jute Traders and Farming Association, while speaking at a discussion in Dhaka organised by Nagorik Sanghati, a non-government organisation (NGO), in association with ActionAid Bangladesh, another NGO.
After the present caretaker government assumed office in January, the BJMC allocated Tk 150 crore for buying raw jute in peak season directly from the farmers. But the BJMC has so far taken no initiative with regard to its earlier dues.
"The BJMC chairman denies to make any comment about the dues," said Yunus Mia.
The small traders said under the new policy the state-owned jute mills have been facing raw jute crisis as the BJMC has so far collected only 4.5 lakh bales of jute in peak season against its target of 11 lakh bales in the current fiscal year.
Presided over by Prof MM Akash at Dhaka University, the small jute traders at the discussion also came down heavily on the BJMC as it has cut the number of jute buying centres to 57 from 142.
The traders said due to the reduction in jute buying centres, the BJMC cannot collect jute of its target and hence most of the raw jute is smuggled out to the neighboring country.
Addressing the discussion, columnist Abul Moksud called for a national agitation to safeguard the interest of the jute sector. He blamed the policy makers for bringing the sector to a crisis level.
Dr ASM Atikur Rahman, president, and Sharifuzzaman Sharif, secretary of Nagorik Sanghati, and jute traders from different regions, among others, were present at the discussion.