The government is going to set up a specialised jute textile mill at a cost of Tk 519 crore although public sector textile and jute mills are counting losses every year.
The proposal for setting up the factory named Sheikh Hasina Specialised Jute and Textile Mill may be placed at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) today.
The mill is planned to be set up in Jamalpur district’s Madarganj upazila by 2020.
The planning ministry proposal said the mill would earn additional foreign currency producing exportable low-priced garments, including denim trousers, jackets and shirts, using a mix of jute and cotton.
One of the three prerequisites of availing trade preference to the US through the Generalised System of Preferences is use of mixed cotton and environment-friendly manufacturing facilities.
A planning ministry official said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during a visit to the textiles and jute ministry in 2014 had directed making Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) profitable by producing multi-pronged jute products. Data shows that the BJMC mills and factories suffered losses of Tk 385 crore to Tk 724 crore in the last six years.
According to a finance ministry provisional estimate, the BJMC loss was Tk 489 crore in the just concluded fiscal year and Tk 481 crore in the previous year.
The BJMC started its journey after the country’s independence with 82 jute mills. Now only 26 remain. Every year the government gives Tk 500 crore to Tk 1,000 crore in subsidies to the BJMC from the budget. Bangladesh Textile Mills Corporation (BTMC) has also been counting losses for years. In the just concluded fiscal year, it suffered a loss of Tk 17 crore.
Sources at the BTMC said they have invited various countries, including India, Japan and Turkey, to invest in mills under them.
The government has planned to take up a project worth $350 million or Tk 2,800 crore for balancing, modernising, rehabilitating and expanding the mills, where China would invest about $280 million or Tk 2,240 crore.
Though China has pledged to provide loans, it is yet to sign a loan agreement. The BJMC officials say once the balancing, modernisation, rehabilitation and expansion was completed, many of the age-old state-run jute mills would become more productive.
China Textile Engineering Corporation has already conducted a feasibility study on the jute mills, said an official of the textile and jute ministry. The study says Bangladesh was losing its leading position in the global jute industry due to a lack of technology, low efficiency, obsolete equipment, single product focus, and a lack of competitiveness.