CAG starts probe into irregularities in jute industry
Bengal’s jute industry has once again been put under a scanner.
In a major development the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office on Wednesday started probing jute issues in Bengal.
A team of officers from the CAG’s Kolkata office on Wednesday suddenly swooped down on the Jute Commissioner’s Office in Salt Lake City to gather jute documents.
Sources in the Jute Commissioner’s office are tight-lipped over the development as the visit was without a notice.
This is the first time that CAG is taking active interest on jute issues as there are complaints with the Jute Commissioner’s office that a section of the industry was allegedly trying to dupe the government.
The Union Committee of Secretaries (COS) led by the Cabinet Secretary had proposed at its last meeting on 22 April 2016 to evaluate the performance and exemptions granted to jute sector for the past 10 years.
Earlier in 2011, CAG had ticked off the Union Law Ministry and the Jute Commissioner’s office to initiate action against sugar mills violating the mandatory jute packaging Act of 1987. The Jute Commissioner’s office is yet to take any action.
The raw jute supply crisis of 2015 had a snowball effect on the jute industry.
During that time many jute mills had hoodwinked the government by taking advantage of certain leniencies shown towards them in terms of hoarding for exports.
Illegal import of jute bags from Bangladesh was also an area of concern. The imported jute bags were purchased at a lower price and then sent for government supply where prices were much higher.
Recently the jute commissioner also filed complaints against a few mills indulging in unfair trade practices.
Meanwhile, the Bengal government has urged the Jute Commissioner’s office not to stop government orders to jute mills without discussing matters.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of the state jute Group of Ministers (GOM) on Monday.
State Finance Minister Amit Mitra, Labour Minister Malay Ghatak and Agriculture Minister Purnendu Bose and Food Minister Jyotipriya Mullick attended the meeting alongside IJMA Chairman Raghavendra Gupta and Manish Poddar.
Deputy Jute Commissioner Dipankar Mahato was present in Monday’s meeting instead of Jute Commissioner Subrata Gupta, who is currently on his way out to a more coveted post in Kolkata Port Trust (KPT).
Recently the Commissioner’s office has threatened stopping of government supply orders of jute bags to a few mills that indulged in `unfair practices’’ and `non-cooperation’’. Jute mills are solely dependent on government orders.
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