The government has decided to shut down production of 25 state-run jute mills under Bangladesh Jute Mill Corporation (BJMC) by providing cent percent dues of some 25,000 workers of the mills.
The decision came at a meeting held with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair at her residence Gono Bhaban today.
"Our BJMC cannot be viable competing with the private sector. These 25 mills cannot run properly. So, some 25,000 workers of the mills have been suffering as they are not getting salary and dues in time... So, the prime minister announced the shutdown of production of the state-run jute mills," said PM's Principal Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus while briefing reporters at the Prime Minister's Office.
He said all dues of workers of the jute mills would be given within 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," he said.
Dr Kaikaus also said the 25 mills will be reopened after being refurbished with modern technology 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 mill – Monowar Jute Mill — was not taken as there is a case over the mill, said Textiles and Jute Secretary Lokman Hossain Miah at the briefing.
The principal secretary said the premier is always against the shutdown of any mill and 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 cannot run properly and the normal life of the workers concerned have been hampered," he added.
Noting that the demand of jute is on rise across the world, he said the PM financed the research over the genome sequencing of jute and promotes the multipurpose uses of jutes.
Mentioning that BJMC cannot make profit, he said BJMC incurred loss in 44 years out of 48 years after 1972-73 fiscal year. "The cumulative loss of the BJMC stood at Tk 10,674 crore in 2018-19 fiscal year (since 1972)," said Dr Kaikaus.
"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, the principal secretary said the payments will directly be sent to the bank accounts of the workers.
The prime minister 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 already started the process of enlisting the workers.
Dr Kaikaus also said that all the dues of 8,956 already retired workers of the jute mills would also be paid for which Tk 1,020 crore (out of Tk 5,000 crore) will be provided in this regard.
He also said the workers having dues up to Tk 2 lakh will get one-time full payment in cash, while the rest of the employees having dues of amount more than Tk 2 lakh will get 50 percent payment in cash and saving certificates against the remaining 50 percent payment. On average, each worker will get Tk 13.86 lakh, he added.
The prime minister also gave a directive for conducting training programme for the workers of the mills for the development of their skills so that they can get jobs in the private sector.
PMO Secretary Md Tofazzal Hossain Miah and high officials of the textiles and jute ministry were present at the briefing.