Cap is Rs. 1 lakh and the details will be worked out soon, says Chief Minister

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy on Friday announced interest-free loans to individual weavers up to a limit Rs. 1 lakh, on the lines of those given to farmers.

This would benefit over one lakh handloom weavers outside the cooperative fold, he stated. The details would be worked out soon and the scheme would be rolled out, he promised, in the presence of Union Minister of Textiles Kavuri Sambasiva Rao, Union Minister of State Panabaaka Lakshmi and Minister for Handlooms & Textiles Gaddam Prasad Kumar.

Loans waived

At a State-level Handloom and Handicrafts Artisans Meet here, he said the A.P. government had taken several initiatives to improve their lot.

“We have an open mind and will take suggestions, but transparency is required,” he said. Andhra Pradesh had waived Rs. 163 crore of loans, including Rs. 109 crore to 1,452 cooperative societies and Rs. 54 crore to about 29,300 individual weavers.

He addressed Mr. Sambasiva Rao and said a comprehensive programme to modernise the 60,000-odd power looms that were found in A.P. had to be taken up soonest with Central assistance.

Among proposals that A.P. had made to the Centre were location of a cotton research laboratory and a handloom export purchase unit in the State, apart from an integrated handloom silk park at Dharmavaram.

Later, addressing presspersons, Mr. Rao said the Textiles Ministry had proposed the creation of a new ‘Price Stabilisation Fund’ that would be managed by the Cotton Corporation of India for which cotton exporters would have to contribute a portion of profits as cess.

It would be put before the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs and the Ministry of Commerce.

‘Exporters getting a better price’

Money from the fund would be used when cotton prices saw drastic fluctuations and would go in building suitable inventory to stabilise prices so that neither exporters nor farmers became a victim of a price slide.

The amount of cess was yet to be finalised, but it could be between Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 2,000 per candy (356 kg) of cotton for which exports got about Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 45,000.

Exporters were now getting a better price with the rupee weakening Mr. Rao said, adding exports were expected to touch10 million bales (170 kgs per bale) this year, as against the Cotton Advisory Board’s estimates of 8.5 million.

He clarified that exports would be allowed only to the extent of surplus, after meeting the domestic demand.