News & Updates

31 August 2015

Source: The Daily Star

Jute farmers get better prices

Jute growers are receiving better prices this season amid higher exports of the raw fibre to India and fears over low local output due to unfavourable weather, said traders and exporters.

The price of raw jute in the local markets rose 13 percent to Tk 1,700-Tk 1,800 a maund (40kg) from last year.

Farmers are happy that prices are higher this harvest season, but at the same time, jute goods makers are apprehensive that it may affect their export competitiveness as global demand is still tepid.

"It is good that we are getting better prices this season compared to last year," said Md Shihabul Islam, a farmer at Boalmari in Faridpur, one of the main jute growing districts.

“Current prices will bring profits.”

Prabir Saha, a jute trader at Madhukhali, Faridpur, linked the price spike to higher raw jute exports to India.

"India bought a higher amount of raw jute in April-May, as production has been affected there by unfavourable weather conditions, which led to the spike in demand," said Abdul Quayyum, secretary of Bangladesh Jute Association, a platform of raw jute exporters.

Heavy rains in July and early August affected the crops, including jute, in India.

Bangladesh Jute Spinners Association (BJSA) predicts that total jute production might be up to 60 lakh bales (1 bale=182kg) this harvesting season.

The Department of Agricultural Extension has set the jute production target at 75.6 lakh bales this year, which is slightly higher than last year's output of 75.01 lakh bales, recorded by Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

Suruz Mina, a farmer from Shibchar of Madaripur district, said drought has stunted the growth of jute plants.

"Yield is expected to be low as the plants did not grow much this year," said Ahmed Hossain, chairman of BJSA.

The industry requires about 55 lakh bales of raw jute to make yarn, jute and jute goods, mainly to export, he added.

Under current circumstances, there might be a shortfall and prices will go up in the coming months, according to Hossain.

“We are concerned as local market prices do not match our production costs and export prices. The cost of raw materials is going up but our buyers are not agreeing with the prices," said Hossain.

Global demand for jute yarn and jute goods has remained sluggish. One of the main reasons for low export performance is unrest in the Middle East, a major destination for locally produced jute and jute goods, according to operators.

The BJSA chairman demanded the government restrict the export of jute for the time being, to ensure domestic availability of the natural fibre.

Exporters shipped 10 lakh bales of raw jute in fiscal 2014-15, up from 9.84 lakh bales in the previous year. Exports of jute goods rose to 8.18 lakh tonnes in fiscal 2014-15 from 8.08 lakh tonnes a year ago, according to the Department of Jute.

Bangladesh fetched earnings worth $868 million from jute and jute goods exports in fiscal 2014-15, which is 5.34 percent higher than in the previous year.

 

27 August 2015

Source: The Financial Express

No public enterprise to be privatised: PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday underscored the need for the proper utilisation of the land of closed state-run industries, saying that no public industry would be privatised in the future.

The Prime Minister said this while presiding over the second meeting of the National Council of Industrial Development (NCID) at her office.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said various aspects of enhancement of industrialisation and investments came up for discussion.

He said the meeting was told that the Board of Investment and the Privatisation Commission would be merged for further accelerating industrialisation and investment.

Referring to the sale of unused land of closed public sector industries at throwaway prices in the past, Sheikh Hasina said these lands would be used to set up industrial parks in the future.

Now there is no need for a vast land to set up a modern industry as it could be done on a small land, she added.

Terming jute an environment-friendly agricultural asset of the country, the Prime Minister said the government proposed China producing jute yarn in Bangladesh. Hasina also underscored the need for raising the minimum ceiling of loan for micro industries from the existing Tk 500,000.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Jute Minister Emaj Uddin Pramanik, Environment and Forest Minister Anwar Hossain, PM's Adviser Dr Moshiur Rahman, State Minister for Energy and Power Nasrul Hamid, BoI Executive Chairman SA Samad, Cabinet Secretary Mosharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, Principal Secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad and secretaries concerned were present.

 

27 August 2015

Source: Dhaka Tribune

China reluctant to give special treatment to Bangladesh

China has ruled out a proposal to give special treatment to Bangladesh on providing assistance.

“We requested them to provide us with special treatment in interest rate, loan down payment and loan mechanism but Beijing is reluctant to do so,” said a government official.

The issue was discussed during the visit of Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng who came to Dhaka Tuesday on a two-day visit.

Finance Minister AMA Muhith had a lengthy discussion with the Chinese minister. Gao Hucheng called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during his visit. He also met Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali and Communication Minister Obaidul Quader.

The Chinese officials told the Bangladesh side that Beijing provides assistance to many countries and if they provide special treatment to Bangladesh, it would have negative impact on others, the official said.

“We proposed them to reduce the interest rate and they agreed to discuss the issue at the working level,” he said.

“The government proposed China to increase concession in infrastructure and energy sectors and they informed us that it is on the rise,” another official said.

Gao Hucheng in his discussion with Muhith said China is helping Bangladesh in different construction projects and Chinese companies should be given the responsibility to operate the facilities after their completion, he said.

“It would benefit in two ways. The facilities built with Chinese assistance would be better managed and the second the Chinese contractors would be more careful about quality of the work,” he added.

The government is positively considering the Chinese proposal, the official said.

China also showed interest to invest $350 million in jute sector, which the government welcomed.

“State-owned China Textiles Industry Corporation wants to invest the amount in jute sector for diversification, value addition and export to different countries including China,” the official said.

Export earnings of Bangladesh increased by 27% last year due to jute export to China, he said.

“At the meeting with the finance minister, Chinese side informed that the two-way trade in 2014 was about $12.5 billion whereas the Bangladesh statistics showed that it was about $9 billion,” the official said.

When asked why the gap is so huge, he said the Commerce Ministry could explain it.

Meanwhile, a press release of the Foreign Ministry said the Chinese minister emphasized One Belt-One Road initiative of Chinese President Xi Xinping to enhance communication.

“He summarised by saying that through this initiative and related mechanisms China wants to “Discuss together-Develop together- Share together” for common pursuit of progress and development,” the press release added.

Bangladesh foreign minister sought Chinese assistance in the capacity building of the institutions and human resources in maritime and Blue Economy.

The Chinese commerce minister in response showed keen interest in cooperating in the maritime and blue economy sector and proposed to constitute a working group in the Ministry of Commerce of China to work on the technical areas.

He also mentioned that a Chinese company named China Aquatic Corporation would look into the Bangladesh request of setting up of the first ever marine aquarium in Cox’s Bazar.

 

26 August 2015

Source: The Financial Express

PM for proper utilisation of lands of closed industries

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday underscored the need for proper utilisation of unused lands of closed industries in the public sector, saying that no government industries would be privatised further in the country.

The Prime Minister said this while presiding over the second meeting of the National Council of Industrial Development (NCID) at her office, a news agency report said.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim said different aspects of boosting of industrialisation and investments came up for discussion.

He said the meeting was informed that the Board of Investment (BoI) and Privatisation Commission would be merged for further increasing industrialisation and investment in the country.

Referring to the selling of unused land of closed public sector industries at a nominal price, the Prime Minister said these lands would be used to set up industrial parks in the future.

"At present there is no need of big lands to set up a modern industry, rather it could be established on limited lands," she added.

Terming jute as an environment-friendly agricultural resource of the country, Sheikh Hasina said the government offered China to produce jute yarns in Bangladesh.

The Prime Minister also stressed the need for increasing the minimum ceiling of loan for micro-level industries from existing Tk0.5 million.

Finance Minister A M A Muhith, Industries Minister Amir Hossain Amu, Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury, Jute Minister Emaj Uddin Pramanik, Environment and Forests Minister Anwar Hossain Manju, PM's Advisor Dr Moshiur Rahman, State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, Executive Chairman of Board of Investment (BoI) Dr SA Samad, Cabinet Secretary M Musharraf Hossain Bhuiyan, PM's Principal Secretary Md Abul Kalam Azad and Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim and secretaries concerned were present.

 

26 August 2015

Source: The Economic Times

Centre looks to promote use of geo-textiles in rural roads

KOCHI: Impressed by the quality of rural roads constructed using jute and coir geo-textiles, the Centre has asked other states to replicate the "good experience of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu" in this regard for projects under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.

Union Rural Development Ministry Secretary JK Mohapatra and Textiles Ministry Secretary Sanjay Kumar Panda, in a joint letter to the chief secretaries of all states, have stressed that the usage of geo-textiles in rural roads is a proven environment-friendly technology that makes for greater durability and reduced maintenance costs.

The Centre's bid to popularise geo-textiles in its ambitious rural road construction programme under Rural Development Ministry is expected to give a major boost to the coir and jute sectors in the domestic market.

Geo-textiles are strong synthetic fabrics usually used in civil engineering construction projects (such as highway or dam building) for stabilising loose soil and preventing erosion.

"The states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu have successfully taken up certain roads under PMGSY using geo- textiles on a pilot basis. These roads are presently undergoing 'Pavement Performance Evaluation' and the initial evaluation reports are quite positive and satisfactory," they said in the letter last week.

The senior officials pointed out that the "Guidelines of Technology initiatives under PMGSY", issued by Rural Development Ministry in 2013, already have a provision that a minimum 15 per cent length of annual proposals under PMGSY received from each state should be based on new or non- conventional materials/technology including, jute and coir geo -textiles.

"As the specifications for jute and coir geo-textiles are not yet available from Indian Road Congress, both the materials can be used on pilot basis on PMGSY roads in five per cent length of annual proposals out of 15 per cent," the letter said.

Geo-textiles, which sees use abroad for strengthening of roads, is still to become popular in India.

Asking the states to take "early action" in the matter, the letter said that "the good experience of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu in the use of geo-textiles" for the building of roads under PMGSY could be scaled up and replicated in other states.

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