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Dhaka Tribune

JS body suggests higher duty on polythene raw materials

Update : 29 May 2014, 10:14 PM

The parliamentary watchdog on textiles and jute ministry yesterday recommended that the finance minister in the next budget impose higher import duty on polythene-making materials so that the prices of polythene bags go up and consumers switch to jute bags.

While discussing the problems facing by the jute industry, the parliamentary standing committee on textiles and jute ministry observed that environmentally-hazardous polythene bags had flooded the local market despite ban while the law for mandatory use of jute in packaging had a little effect.

The 10-member watchdog also discussed alleged irregularities in the sale of land of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation by the immediate-past minister.

The watchdog, headed by Saber Hossain Chowdhury, thanked the government for making the textiles and jute ministry a parent ministry for the readymade garment industry.

“Businesspeople will always go for the cheaper options; so we have to make polythene costlier by slapping higher import duty on raw materials of polythene bags,” Saber told the Dhaka Tribune after the second meeting at the parliament building.

“Then jute bags will turn cheaper and people will switch to environmentally-friendly products instead of hazardous polythene,” he said.

The BNP government in 2002 banned use of polythene in the country considering its disastrous impact on the environment, but polythene had staged comeback under the nose of law enforcers.

Polythene reduces the soil fertility and it takes over hundred years to destroy. If burnt, polythene and plastics emit poisonous gas.

The Awami League government in 2010 passed a law for mandatory use of jute in packaging, but higher cost of the jute bags encouraged the businessmen to opt for poly bags.

The chairman said some of his committee members raised the media report on sale of the BJMC land by the immediate-past minister who had allegedly sold the land property worth Tk3,000 crore for only Tk248 crore.

“The Prime Minister’s Office is investigating the allegations. We will examine the report and form a probe committee if necessary,” said Saber, asking the ministry officials as to whether the ministry had any mechanism to accept allegations of corruption from the people and dispose of properly.

The officials who attended the meeting informed that a deputy secretary was in charge of it.

The watchdog suggested that the ministry be proactive in accepting the corruption charges, if any. The standing committee adjourned the meeting which was scheduled for June 2.

Jute Minister Emaj Uddin Pramanik, his deputy Mirza Azam, Monnuzan Sufian, Ekramul Karim Chowdhury, Fahmi Golandaz Babel, Dr Enamur Rahman, Kujendra Nath Tripura and Sabina Akter Tuhin attended the meeting.

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