The export of jute and jute-made products posted 39.26% year-on-year growth in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, despite state-run jute mill closures and the fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Bangladesh forecasts jute export earnings to cross $1 billion this fiscal year as demand for jute-made products is on the rise globally, Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi said at a press briefing at the Secretariat Wednesday.
The minister said the natural fiber earned $882.35 million in foreign currencies in the last fiscal year – graduating to the second position in the export list after ready-made garments. The growth in jute exports was 8.10% in that year.
Golam Dastagir Gazi said the value of, and demand for, the natural fiber is increasing day by day due to growing global awareness about the environmental damage caused by rampant use of polythene and plastic.
The minister hopes that the contribution of jute to the country's economy will be further consolidated in the upcoming days.
A maund of raw jute has hit a record high of Tk3,000 this year, which is nearly 50% more than the corresponding period of the last season.
About this hike, the minister said the raw jute price has gone up as both the value of, and demand for, jute has increased across the world.
The government on 1 July this year shut 25 jute mills under the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) in the wake of recurring losses. The move sent 24,886 jute workers at the state-owned mills into early retirement, and the government then said it would pay their dues in full by September this year.
At the press conference, on payment updates, the minister said the dues of the BJMC workers would be fully cleared by November.
The minister said the Finance Division has freed Tk1,790.52 crore so far for workers' payment at eight mills. The amount is being distributed to workers' bank accounts and through savings certificates.
Golam Dastagir Gazi said workers' payments at Chattogram's Hafiz Jute Mills and Khulna's Eastern Jute Mills will begin next Sunday. Similarly, payments at other mills will be completed by November.
He said two committees have been formed to reopen the mills and restructure the organisational structure of BJMC. The mills will be reopened in line with their recommendations. Former workers of the production units will be prioritised in new recruitment.
During the closure of the state-owned mills, the government said it would pay the 24,609 permanent workers a total of Tk4,000 crore at once.
Further, about Tk1,000 crore was allocated for the total dues of 10,107 retired workers since 2013. The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to pay 50% of the arrears in cash and the remaining 50% in savings certificates to ensure the financial security and safety of the workers.
Textiles and Jute Secretary Lokman Hossain Mia and Additional Secretary Mohammad Abul Kalam were present at the press conference.