Coronavirus: Tk1,000cr sought for jute entrepreneurs in assistance

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The non-refundable assistance should be disbursed for covering their expenses and losses in the post-corona period

Patshala, a jute goods research and training centre, has urged the government to allocate Tk1,000 crore from their stimulus package for jute entrepreneurs in special assistance.

In a statement released on Saturday, they said 98% of the sector’s entrepreneurs, traders and artisans, mostly women, did not possess the institutional skills or requirements to become eligible for loans.

Instead, they should be given funds in the form of assistance to survive during the corona-related difficulties.

The non-refundable assistance should be disbursed for covering their expenses and losses in the post-corona period, the release added. 

There are at least 5,000 jute entrepreneurs, retailers and suppliers, along with over 20,000 artisans, labourers and other jute sector employees and officials in the country.

Chashi Mamun, chairman of Patshala, said in the release that the main reason for the entrepreneurs ineligibility for the loans stemmed from the East Pakistan days, when the jute industry was neglected despite showing immense economic potential.

After independence, none of the governments took any major initiatives to develop the jute sector, he lamented.

He thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for allocating Tk20,000 crore from the Tk72,750 crore stimulus package for cottage industries including jute, but requested her to allocate Tk1,000 crore from the  package for jute entrepreneurs in assistance.

“Every month, jute entrepreneurs are incurring Tk300 crore losses due to coronavirus. As a result, they are not able to pay workers’ wages, utility bills or even make ends meet. At least 90% jute entrepreneurs would not be able to make a turnaround in the post-corona period,” he feared.