After shutting down all its state-owned jute mills for more than a year, Bangladesh is now in it’s final stage of shortlisting bidders who sought to operate once-vibrant factories under lease arrangements. Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) that used to operate the mills is now sifting through the lease proposals it received against an expression of interest (EOI) bid that floated in April to lease out 17 out of it’s 25 closed factories. Private jute sector entrepreneurs from the UK, India and Bangladesh submitted 59 proposals in total, few of which being joint venture lease-holding proposals.

Deputy Secretary Imran Ahmed of the Textiles and Jute Ministry, who is overseeing the leasing process, stated that it may take three more months for the government to award the leases to operate closed mills after wearing out the remaining procedures. The procedures include shortlisting the most potential bidders and giving them some time to prepare and submit their elaborate financial and technical proposals. The company started its journey with 73 jute mills under its operation after 1971 but the company has now with still 3,000 staffers under its payroll. Non-modernizing and not replacing old machines in many of the mills, management inefficiencies and grafts led BJMC to loss-making and eventual shuttering the last remaining 25 public sector jute mills in July last year and laying off over 50,000 of it’s workers.

The government, considering the employment generation potentials of the closed down jute mills, now thinks a lease process will ensure a faster resumption of production in all these mills under new private ownership. Years of losses – mostly owing to graft, inefficiency, lack of proper management and monitoring – prompted the government to close down the 25 state-run jute and carpeting mills in July last year. The losses incurred by the jute mills have also been attributed to the BJMC’s failure to reinvest and repair worn out old machinery year after year.