Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on Thursday directed the
government agencies to create conducive environment for the reopening of closed
public enterprises (PEs) in production sector and the utilisation of resources
The PM issued the directive during a meeting that was
attended by secretary of Prime Minster's Office, Finance secretary, economic
advisor to Prime Minster, chief of Public Enterprise Board, joint secretaries
of finance and industry ministries.
"Particularly, the PM directed us to create environment for
reopening the Birgunj Sugar Mill," said Khum Raj Punjali, PE coordination
division chief at the Finance Ministry.
The PM's directives to the government agencies have come
amid mounting pressure from locals, political parties and other stakeholders to
reopen the factory that had remained closed for a decade.
Bhattarai had sought to reopen Birgunj Sugar Mill and
Hetauda Textile Factory in 2008 when he was finance minister in the first
Maoist-led government. But the plan failed to materialise as the successive
governments did not prioritise the issue.
Following the PM's instruction, the Finance Ministry issued
a press release stating that the government was committed to find a suitable
alternative to reopen the factory. "The
Public Enterprise Board will do a homework to find out alternative on
re-operating the factory," said Punjali, who is also secretary at the board.
Currently, the stakeholders at local level have intensified
pressure on the government to reopen mill by forming 21-member struggle
committee, comprising sugarcane farmers, former mill employees and
representatives from the civil society, political parties and locals.
District- and village-level struggle committees have also
been formed in Parsa and Bara. Over one and a half dozen VDC-level struggle
committees have been formed in Parsa and 10 similar panels in Bara. The Factory
Operation Committee has also planned to stage protests, including hunger and
tranport strikes, later this month.
According to Punjali, the struggle committee has recommended
operating the factory under a cooperative model. The government is also willing
to settle issue related to former employees of the mill.
Punjali said that the government would settle row with
ex-employees in a positive manner although the court passed the verdict against
paying compensation to the ex-employees for the period while the factory