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ED: To move forward, let go

  • Published at 07:37 am April 30th, 2021

It is unlikely that investors will be lining up to spend their money on something that has proven to fail

Many in Bangladesh, particularly in the government, feel a certain sentimental attachment to jute -- the golden fibre is, after all, quintessentially Bangladeshi. But the simple fact is, state-owned jute factories make colossal losses, and the best course of action would be to sell or lease the land and machinery to the private sector to engage in whatever business is profitable. 

The closure of Adamjee Jute Mills back in 2002 was indeed a tough pill to swallow for many -- it was, after all, the first jute mill to be set up in Bangladesh, and also at one point the largest in the world. But the priority here must be to cut our losses and move forward. 

Many were against the decision to close down Adamjee Jute Mills to form Adamjee EPZ, but considering the amount in subsidies it would require from the government in order to keep it afloat, continuing its operations would have been a burden that the Bangladeshi public coffers. The land is now being used as the Adamjee Export Procesing Zone, which has since gone on to employ more than 62,000 people.  

As we develop infrastructure and industry in an attempt to ensure our sustainable progress, more such decisions will need to be taken regarding our existing jute mills. Unfortunately, instead of following the example of Adamjee -- which is a story of successful transformation -- the government has decided to lease out these factories to private organizations. 

With the jute industry having incurred a loss of Tk4,759 crore in the last 11 years, it is unlikely that investors will be lining up to spend their money on something that has proven to fail. The government should not be leasing out factories while clinging to the idea of a jute. It would be far better sell or lease these lands and factories to let the private sector operate on its own, setting up whatever industry is profitable. To move forward, and thrive, we need to let go.