Indian garment exporters seek sops

February 5th, 2009 - 7:18 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 5 (IANS) A leading Indian garment exporters’ lobby Thursday demanded sops like duty cuts and interest free loans to help them tide over a crisis that has seen thousands of layoffs.“We really don’t know what step we would take further without any special package for our industry,” said Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC) chairman Rahul Vaid.

AEPC, at a meeting with Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, demanded an immediate increase of 4 percent in duty drawback rate as relief to the ailing garment industry, tax holiday on export income at least for a year, and interest-free loans for investment in machinery.

“We have demanded immediate duty drawback by 4 percent as we are short of funds, owing to which over 500,000 people working in the sector have become jobless. The figures are expected to rise to 15 lakh (1.5 million),” Vaid added.

The apparel sector contributes over 8 percent of India’s exports and employs five million people. Garment exports have been declining since last August, falling 9.4 percent in November over the year-ago period.

“The Planning Commission was sympathetic to our demand and Mr. Ahluwalia has assured us that he would take up the issue with the concerned ministries,” said Vaid.

“We have demanded immediate duty drawback by 4 percent as we are short of funds, owing to which over 500,00 people working in the sector have become jobless. The figures are expected to rise to 1.5 million,” he added.

The exporters were also unhappy that the two stimulus packages announded earlier did not provide any relief to the sector.

Talking to reporters later, Ahluwalia said: “There is a serious downturn and we want the garment industry to recover as it is also an employment-generating field.”

Ahluwalia said the concerns of the garment industry would be discussed with respective ministries.

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