Union Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran on Wednesday ruled out a total ban on cotton exports, but said that he would urge the Finance Minister for an increase in the export duty to check the prices of the natural fibre.
“We are not for a blanket ban [on cotton exports]. We need some kind of calibration in the exports,'' he told reporters after releasing a booklet on the achievements of the textile industry on the completion of one year of the UPA-II Government.
Noting that the present stock of cotton was only 34 lakh bales, equivalent to one and a half month's requirement of the industry, he said to ensure ‘fibre security' for the textile industry, he would urge the Finance Minister for an increase in the export duty, which is at present Rs.2,500 a tonne.
Asked whether any exception would be made on shipments to Pakistan and Bangladesh, he merely said, “the LCs (letters of credit] would be honoured.''
Authorities in Pakistan have written to the Central Government seeking removal of curbs on cotton shipments to that country.
He pointed out that if steps were not taken to restrict cotton exports, Indian spinning mills would have faced a situation similar to in Pakistan, where a number of mills had to close down because of shortage of the fibre. Mr. Maran also announced an export target of $25 billion for the current financial year, $6 billion more than last year's performance. Conceding that there was a possibility of more financial problems in the European Union leading to lack of demand for Indian exports, he said the Ministry was optimistic of achieving higher demand on the back of a sizable increase in exports of manmade fibres last year.
Mr. Maran also announced a 17-point agenda for the Ministry for the next one year, which included a re-orientation of the Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme to boost investment and technology upgradation in weaving, knitting and processing segments and to remove the value cap of Rs.8 lakh in respect of imported second hand automatic shuttleless looms.
The agenda also envisaged setting up of two non-woven textile units by the National Textiles Corporation in Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) and Beawar (Rajasthan) and establishment of a technology mission on technical textiles by September with an outlay of Rs.500 crore to be spent in five years.
Meanwhile, the Textile Ministry has put a draft of a National Fibre Policy on its website for public consultation. Mr. Maran said the general public could give feedback over the next six weeks. The policy aims to address the issue of equitable use of all fibres. To mark the completion of one year of his stewardship of the Ministry, Mr. Maran launched two websites — www.craftsclustersofindia.in and www.themecrafts.in — and an e-book aimed at better promotion of Indian handicrafts to the outside world.