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Bangladesh halts production at six state-run sugar mills

Employees stage demo, farmers to hold rallies

Staff Correspondent | Published: 23:59, Dec 03,2020 | Updated: 00:09, Dec 04,2020

 
 

Agitated workers and sugarcane farmers hold a demonstration programme on Thursday protesting against the closure of Pabna Sugar Mills. -- New Age photo

The government has decided to suspend productions at six state-run sugar mills in the current financial year 2020-2021 to minimise the accumulated losses of the Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation.

Industries ministry has already given instructions to Pabna Sugar Mills Ltd, Shyampur Sugar Mills Ltd, Setabganj Sugar Mills Ltd, Kushtia Sugar Mills Ltd, Panchagarh Sugar Mills Ltd and Rangpur Sugar Mills Ltd to stop sugarcane processing for the FY21, which will end in June, 2021.

Faridpur Sugar Mills and Rajshahi Sugar Mills may be added in the list in the next FY 2021-2022, according to a document of the industries ministry.

The number of state-run sugar mills in the country is 15.

The ministry said that the decision to suspend productions at the six sugar mills had been taken considering a number of factors, including the rate of sugar production, sugarcane cultivable land, capacity of mills, losses incurred by the mills and maintenance costs.

The BSFC will process sugarcane and run production activities at the remaining nine mills of the corporation across the country, it said.

The six mills, however, will continue purchasing sugarcane produced by farmers in the areas and send those to the nearby mills for processing and sugar production.

Workers of the six mills will be transferred to mills which will remain in operation, it said.

Pabna Sugar Mills managing director Saif Uddin Ahmed on Thursday told New Age that they stopped production activities on Wednesday following the corporation instruction.

Syhmpur Sugar Mills, a listed company at the Dhaka Stock Exchange, on Wednesday in a disclosure to the  DSE said that the board of directors of the company had decided to stop sugarcane processing for the FY21 as per the instruction of the industries ministry.

In Pabna, agitated workers and sugarcane farmers held a demonstration on Thursday protesting against the closure of the Pabna Sugar Mills, the only heavy industry in the district, reported New Age correspondent.

The programme was held in front of the main gate of the sugar factory.

Former president of Pabna Sugar Mills Workers’ Union Arifur Rahman Arif, general secretary Ibrahim Hossain, organising secretary Babul Alam Babu, labour leader Rakibul Islam, and Ramzan Ali Kamal, addressed the rally, among others.

The speakers demanded immediate withdrawal of the government’s decision to close the sugar mills.

They demanded payment of arrears of five months to the workers.

Managing director Saif said that the factory had 687 workers and they would be employed at nearby mills and no one would be sacked. 

The apex body of the sugarcane producers’ on Thursday announced that they would hold protest rallies at the gates of all the sugar mills from tomorrow. 

According to the industries ministry, the corporation will require at least Tk 534.13 crore for sugarcane processing and the corporation may get up to Tk 250.59 crore from selling sugar and molasses to be produced in the year.

The government will have to provide the remaining Tk 283.54 crore in subsidy.

It also said that finance ministry had yet to release Tk 123 crore spent as subsidy for purchasing sugarcane in the last FY 2019-2020.

As a result, the factories cannot pay the dues to the sugarcane farmers and workers, it said.

The decision about which mills will remain open or closed in the FY22 may be finalised after the end of sugarcane processing period of the FY21, according to the documents.

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