Radhakrishnan Kuttoor

Import duty exemption hits growers

PATHANAMTHITTA: The Kerala Kerakarshaka Sahakarana Federation (Kerafed) that has made a turnaround by registering record profit last year is seeking State support for sustenance.

Talking to The Hindu on Thursday, Kerafed chairman M.Sukumara Pillai said the Centre’s decision to exempt customs duty on import of various edible oils had hit the federation and coconut growers.

He said the Centre’s decision had affected the otherwise swift movement of Kerafed products in the domestic market.

He said the Centre’s negative approach would sound the death knell of the organisation which had been registering profit for the past three years.

“Formed with a share capital of Rs.28.78 crore from the State government in 1987, Kerafed could repay only Rs.3.25 crore and the interest element had accumulated to Rs.36.75 crore. Even the repaid amount had been adjusted against the interest, deepening the federation’s debt,” he said.

Mr. Pillai said the finances of Kerafed began to improve with a series of measures to streamline copra procurement, processing and sale since 2006-07.

Efforts of the government to revive Kerafed reflected in the annual turnover which rose to Rs.47.90 crore in 2006-07 when compared to Rs.37.26 crore the previous year. Kerafed registered a record profit of Rs.68.10 crore next year and anticipated a turnover of Rs.85 crore in the current financial year, he said. Mr. Pillai said the federation needed government support to tide over the crisis in the backdrop of the global recession as well as the Centre’s negative policies.

Mr. Pillai said he had discussed the issue with Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac and called for positive steps to save the federation as well as coconut growers.