Agri Business

Bengal jute industry hit by fund crunch as banks set stringent credit norms

PTI Kolkata | Updated on February 23, 2020 Published on February 23, 2020

The jute industry in West Bengal is facing difficulties due to the dearth of working capital, as banks have allegedly tightened the lending standards for the sector, officials said. The lenders have been seeking “clear land papers” from mills’ owners for extending loans, they said.

At present, three major jute mills remained closed due to working capital crunch, industry sources said.

“Lack of banking credit has hit several jute mills in the State. Mill owners are not getting adequate credit to run their businesses. Banks make lending norms more stringent for land titles, which is used as collateral,” a jute mill promoter told PTI on condition of anonymity.

Workers of closed Weaverly Jute Mills at Shyamnagar in North 24 Parganas district allegedly ransacked the office of the unit and torched two vehicles after the management put up a notice to continue the suspension of work on Friday. The work at the mill has been suspended since January 29 as the promoters of the company witnessed “a slowdown in business” and were struggling with “fund crunch”, sources said.

“Following the alleged fraud perpetrated by billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi, the banks become extra cautious. They are seeking clear land papers before sanctioning loans,” industry sources said.

Indian Jute Mills Association chairman Raghavendra Gupta said access to bank credit against the land title is a challenge, though the State government had brought in a legislation and subsequently, amended a law to solve the problem. “Currently, lands of the mills belong to the State and had been given to the millers for a specific purpose. A legislation and the amended law enabled the government to offer land to mill owners for a lease of 99 years to solve this perennial title issue,” Gupta said.

He hoped that the mills will be able to supply monthly three lakh bales of jute bags to the government.

Published on February 23, 2020
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