The government wants to reopen the jute mills of the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) soon.
A high-level committee has already started working to determine an appropriate approach to restart the mills.
The committee will choose the approach following a meeting with the sector's stakeholders after Eid, said Abul Kalam Azad, additional secretary of the Ministry of Textiles and Jute, at a view-exchange meeting with journalists on Tuesday.
The meeting, on modernising BJMC's mills as per the current domestic and international market demand, was held at the Jute Diversification Promotion Center auditorium in the capital.
Abul Kamal Azad said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has formed a committee under the chairmanship of Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi.
The committee includes the secretary of the Ministry of Textiles and Jute Lokman Hossain Mia, Finance Secretary Abdur Rauf Talukder and two other secretaries.
Sirajul Islam, chairman of the executive committee of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, Sheikh Fazle Fahim, president of the FBCCI – the apex body of businessmen, and Sheikh Syed Ali, president of the Bangladesh Jute Association, are also in the committee.
The committee's first meeting was held on Thursday last. After Eid, the committee will hold another meeting with the stakeholders and recommend the most appropriate approach based on the views of entrepreneurs in this sector. Later, the government will take initiatives to restart the jute mills.
Abul Kalam Azad said, "We have arranged a joint venture along with the Public Private Partnership to restart the jute mills. It will be good if foreign investment is also available.
"The mills can also be resumed through the G2G system in collaboration with another government. We are also considering whether they can be launched jointly or on a rental basis with different companies."
He also said a committee comprising of zilla parishads, law enforcing agencies, representatives of relevant mills and a high-ranking official of BJMC has been constituted to prepare details of movable and immovable assets of the BJMC jute mills.
He added that another committee has been set up to determine the accounts of raw jute and jute products.
Replying to a question, Abul Kalam said once BJMC was the controller of the jute sector. After 1982, private entrepreneurs came forward in this sector.
At present, there are 91 jute mills in the private sector, including spinning and jute mills. Some of these are closed, but most of them are running.
BJMC contributes only eight percent to the jute sector while private entrepreneurs do 92 percent. Recently, the demand for jute products in the world market has started increasing. The price trend of raw jute is also showing good signs.
However, the process of buying jute from farmers will not be hampered due to the private sector mills. The government will provide necessary assistance in this regard, said the additional secretary.
Abul Kalam added that workers' wages in BJMC's mills were almost three times higher than those of private ones. After the implementation of the 2015 pay scale, the basic wage of workers rose to Tk8,300 but it is not even half that in the private sector. 60-65 percent of spending was made on wages in BJMC. In the private sector, the amount is only 15-20 percent.
In a written statement, BJMC Secretary AFM Ehteshamul Haque said the BJMC had no allocation to finance any labor movement or meeting at the mill gate. Nor did it spend any money for conducting collective bargaining agreement activities. However, some vested quarters are spreading false information on it.