Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) has expressed concerned over Bangladesh Sugar and Food Industries Corporation's decision to close 6 out of 15 state-owned sugar mills in the country, citing losses.
The six sugar mills are Pabna Sugar Mill, Shampur Sugar Mill, Panchagarh Sugar Mill, Setabganj Sugar Mill, Rangpur Sugar Mill and Kushtia Sugar Mill.
Sugarcane growers in millions of acres of land in the country are in dire straits and thousands of workers have lost their jobs due to the suspension of sugarcane threshing and production in state-owned sugar mills during the sugarcane harvest season. The sudden closure of sugar mills throws the future of sugarcane growers and workers into uncertainty. Although private sugar mills are profitable, the question arises as to why state-owned enterprises are losing money.
There are allegations about the inability of relevant authorities to take timely decisions, about the shortage of sugarcane, production with antiquated machinery, inefficiency in sugarcane processing, corruption, and lack of a planned marketing system. It has also been alleged that the country's sugar syndicate is leveraging additional profit opportunities in this process. Though Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has given several instructions to mitigate the losses of sugar mills incurred during the last decade, most of these directives have not been implemented.
Ain o Salish Kendra has called for the formation of an expert committee to look into ways to boost profitability of sugar mills by eliminating short-sighted decisions, like the closure of six state-owned sugar mills and through effective implementation of the committee's recommendations.