The Centre will give top priority to providing relief to rubber growers who are facing a crisis due to fall in prices, Union Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today said. The priority will be first to address the issue of giving some relief to growers, the Minister told reporters in Kochi, adding that the concerns related to rubber imports would also be addressed, she said.
Many small growers this year have stopped tapping rubber as prices have come down. Many are unable to pay workers and are left with nothing after paying wages and this would be addressed first, she said.
The Minister, who had met representatives of Rubber growers, traders and tyre manufacturers here yesterday, said the inputs she had received were more relating to problems faced by the rubber industry. But of course that again will have a bearing on the policy itself.
Let me go back, I will not commit on time. At the earliest possible, she told reporters here when asked when the National policy on Natural Rubber could be expected. Asked whether the tyre industry was importing rubber more than the required quantity, the minister said figures show import was much more than demand supply gap. However, there is no proof that the imports are by the tyre industry, she said.
When discussed about LNG terminal in Kochi being unable to operate at its optimum capacity, she said both Central and state governments have to work together to deal with the issue as so much of investment has gone into the project.
On the revival package for ailing CPSU Fertilisers and Chemical Travancore Ltd (FACT), the Minister said she would talk to Chemicals and Fertilizer Minister on the issue. The minister, during her two-day visit to Kerala, reviewed the activities of spices board, heard the worries of cardamom growers, the challenges of cardamom exporters as there is threat from Guatemala.
The Minister had also met representatives of Indian Chamber of Commerce where worries of rubber, pepper and tea were raised and reviewed the activities of Cochin Special Economic Zone.
Later, addressing an interactive session organised by the CII here, Sitharaman highlighted the government’s efforts to reach out to the industry and the various sections of the society in formulating a thorough and inclusive plan to lead the country to development and prosperity. She also emphasised on the need to implement the goals in a time-bound manner.
The Central government has identified few immediate focus areas and action points including rolling out of GST, fast- tracking decision-making especially on large-project clearances, including those in the manufacturing sector, she said. The government will take initiatives to promote employment, mass manufacturing, skill development and social security access for the informal sector. Let’s bring up more and more entrepreneurs, facilitate businesses rather than red tapism.
More and more young men and women from families that were staunch believers of having a secure job are now venturing into entrepreneurship, she said. CII requested investment support in developing Infrastructure and Smart City. CII requested the Minister that given the technology footprint and availability of engineering talent that Kerala has, one city in Kerala like Palakkad could be included in ‘Modified Special Incentive Package’.
Shyam Srinivasan, Chairman, CII Kerala State Council and Managing Director and CEO, The Federal Bank Ltd congratulated the government for its visionary initiatives to develop the much needed infrastructure to improve the industrial scenario in the country. Navas Meeran, Chairman, CII Southern Region and Managing Director, Eastern Condiments Pvt Ltd, extended the support of CII to help the Government achieve its goals.
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