NewAge, April 25, 2009
Almost half of the 74 state-owned enterprises divested in the past were closed down that raised question about the quality of ‘so called privatisation’.
A total of 74 state-owned enterprises belong to textiles, jute, manufacturing, chemicals, food, leather and banking sector were sold out since the establishment of the Privatisation Board in 1993 and thereafter the Privatization Commission in 2000.
A closed state-owned jute mills. — New Age photo
Of them, 54 were divested through outright sale and 20 through off-loading of shares by suggestion of the lending agencies especially the World Bank.
Among the privatised enterprises, which are still in business limp badly, they said.
Serious questions can be raised about the privatisation process itself, said Bangladesh Enterprise Institute president Farooq Sobhan. He suggested changes to the existing privatisation process.
Industries minister Dilip Barua, has, however, favoured a provision to halt privatisation of the state-run entities.
He made his intention clear while unveiling the draft of the new industrial policy on Saturday at local hotel.
’Many privatised factories remain inoperative or non-functional under new ownership. In some cases, land is sold off after take-over,’ he said.
Apart from 74 SOEs, some 24 SoEs have already been listed by the commissions to get them disposed off under a World Bank’s multi million ‘bank modernisation and enterprise growth’ project.
Tenders have already been called for three SoEs.
Around 305 state owned enterprises comprising industrial, commercial and financial institutions were put under public ownership in 1974-75.
The size of the public sector enterprises have reduced considerably after the paradigm shift in the government’s economic policy towards privatisation.
However, in name of privatisation successive governments sold out many viable SoEs at very cheap rate, said an official of the Bangladesh Forest Industries and Development Corporation.
He said Wood Treating Plant at Daulatpur in Khulna was divested to private entrepreneur although the organisation was running on break event and employed more than 200 workers.
A relative of the than privatisation commission chairman purchase the plant and curtailed more than 150 workers.
The abortive attempt to privatise Rupali Bank, country’s fourth largest commercial bank, has added further burden on the government exchequer, said the finance ministry officials.
The three-year long unsuccessful bargaining with A Saudi prince deteriorated the financial position of the loss making bank that was put on sale in 2005.