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Jute Ministry seeks Tk500cr to pay outstanding wages

  • Published at 12:49 am April 3rd, 2019
jute mill worker
Agitating jute mill workers burn tyres on Khulna-Jessore Highway on the first day of their 72-hour strike on Tuesday Dhaka Tribune

Finance Ministry is indifferent towards the Jute Ministry’s requirement of emergency funds

The Ministry of Finance is reluctant towards approving any fund for the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) in order to pay off the outstanding wages of workers in 26 state-owned jute mills, even though the Ministry of Textile and Jute has urgently sought Tk500 crore to this end, top officials at the ministry said.

Officials at the Finance Ministry said they had yet to make a decision over the Jute Ministry’s request. 

“We have received a letter from the Ministry of Textiles and Jute seeking emergency funds. But no decision has yet been made in this regard,” Sheikh Md Salimullah Khan, additional secretary at the Finance Division, told the Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.

Sources at the Finance Ministry said they had long been pursuing the Jute Ministry to submit their business plan for the 26 jute mills, working under the BJMC.

“They [the mills] were made self-reliant to bear their own salary expenses,” a senior Finance Ministry official said. “Now they have to sort this issue out. Spoon-feeding cannot be a viable option for any enterprise.”

The official, seeking anonymity, said the Finance Ministry sanctioned a Tk480 crore fund in the last fiscal year to pay the salaries of more than 100,000 jute mill workers around the country.

“We cannot afford such a huge subsidy for the state-owned jute mills every year, when private sector factories are making money doing the same business,” he added. 

Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune, Mizanur Rahman, acting secretary at the Ministry of Textiles and Jute, said the ministry had taken initiatives to implement the wage commission recommendations for the state-owned jute mill workers.

“All jute mill authorities have been asked to complete the salary fixation procedure in line with the wage commission recommendations,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the ministry has been relentlessly pursuing the Ministry of Finance for an emergency fund of Tk500 crore for the BJMC, Mizan said. 

He also admitted that the state-owned jute sector was plagued by inefficiency, corruption and irregularities, terming the situation “grave.”

The acting secretary further said the factory authorities had no options left other than undertaking action plans to become viable and commercially attractive ventures.

“We cannot always seek government bailout,” he added. 

He said although the workers of the state-owned jute mills are now better paid than those in private jute mills, the government decided to implement the wage commission recommendations on Tuesday.

He urged the demonstrating workers to withdraw their strike.

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