Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Govt moves to reopen two silk factories under PPP

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The government has taken initiatives to reopen two silk factories -- one in Rajshahi and the other in Thakurgaon under public-private partnership (PPP) by January next.

The Tk27 crore loss-burdened Rajshahi Silk Factory was shut down in 2002, forcing 359 employees out of job. At that time, Thakurgaon Silk Factory was also closed.

As per the prime minister's directive to the Ministry of Jute and Textile ministry to take immediate steps to reopen the factories, a high profile parliamentary body visited Rajshahi on Friday and Thakurgaon on Sunday to examine the feasibility of the move.

The three-member team completed an inventory of the factory machineries and exchanged views with experts, businessmen, growers and officials of the Bangladesh Sericulture Board.

"Local businessmen showed interest in running the factories under PPP," Kazi Abdul Wadud Dara, the committee chief and a lawmaker from Rajshahi-5 constituency, told The Daily Star.

"We are to submit our report to the standing committee in a few days", he added.

Other members of the committee are M Shafikul Islam from Sirajganj-4 and Molla Jamal Uddin from Khulna-4 constituencies.

Dara said, "If the factories are reopened, it would help meet the domestic demand for silk and save huge foreign currencies that we spend on imports every year."

At present the country produces only 50 tonnes of silk yarn a year against the demand for 300 tonnees. The rest 250 tonnes are now imported, according to local silk traders.

Rajshahi City Mayor AHM Khairuzzaman Liton said, "If the factories are reintroduced, hundreds of people will be employed."

He blamed the previous governments' wrong policies for the present state of the silk sector, a heritage that made Rajshahi familiar worldwide.

There are also proposals for reopening the factories on 'no work no payment' basis initially, spending from all the BSB's Tk 40 lakh fund, sources in the sericulture board said.

A BSB experts' team, however, anticipated in 2008 a loss of Tk 42 lakh annually if those are re-introduced.

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