20,000 jute workers lost jobs in 2 months

Posted: ফেব্রুয়ারি 1, 2009 in Jute industry

10-year policy by June

Around 20,000 contractual workers in the jute industry were forced out of their jobs in the last two months on the back of a decline in demand for jute in the international market, said industry people.

At the same time, the government is set to formulate by June a 10-year plan for the revival of the jute industry, said commerce minister yesterday.

“Around 20,000 workers were laid off in jute sector in the last two months due to global financial meltdown that reduced demand for raw jute and jute products in the international market,” said Sabbir Yusuf, chairman of Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association (BJSA).

“In the next three months the situation may worsen with mainly a drop in production in jute carpet industry and more job cuts, as export of jute and jute products is on a downward trend,” he said.

Sabbir was speaking at a meeting, as a delegation of Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC), BJSA, Bangladesh Jute Association (BJA) and Bangladesh Jute Goods and Jute Exporters Association (BJGJEA) called on Commerce Minister Faruk Khan at his office yesterday.

Export of raw jute declined by around seven percent and that of jute goods by 12.46 percent in the July-November period of the current fiscal year, according to Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) statistics.

“The government is set to formulate a 10-year plan to revive the jute sector and finalise the draft jute policy by June,” the commerce minister said, adding that the sector needs massive overhaul.

“We will cut the price of jute seeds by March and ensure that the farmers get seeds in time,” he said.

The minister said the government will soon send letters to the commercial counselors at different foreign missions to boost marketing campaign for local jute that is expected to help increase export of raw jute and jute products.

Currently the annual production of jute is around 55 tonnes and the sector earns on an average Tk 1,000 crore by exporting raw jute and jute goods every year.

The sector started its journey with 77 state-run mills set up in pre-liberation period. Among those, 35 mills were privatised in 1984 and 1985, and another 27 mills were shut down at different times until 2008. Now BJMC has only 14 mills in operation.

Rezaul Karim, president of BJA, demanded that the government increase subsidy and reduce bank interest rate in case of exporting raw jute.

He also urged the government to take necessary steps to ensure duty-free export of raw jute.

The daily star 02.02.2009

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