Union Textiles Minister K. Sambasiva Rao on Wednesday called for reducing interest rates on loans for handicraft, handloom, block-printing and cotton-related agriculture sectors to facilitate fast growth and expanding their livelihood potential. He said the service tax and customs duty on the textile industry will be reduced shortly.
After laying the foundation stone for a handicraft productivity centre here, Mr. Rao said the textile industry should be treated as a priority sector.
Emphasising the need for investment in small-scale industries in view of increasing input costs, Mr. Rao said reducing interest rates for them would help in making them compatible with big industries.
The Union Minister called upon entrepreneurs in Rajasthan to take care of the social and economic conditions of artisans and help them improve their skills as well as financial and educational status. “Crafts-persons bring profits to entrepreneurs. The shortage of skilled labourers is affecting the handloom, handicraft and weaving units badly,” he said.
Mr. Rao said he had recently made a proposal for creating employment opportunities in the textile sector on the lines of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme.
He asked the Union Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation Ministry to start housing projects for textile labourers in order to ensure sustenance of small industries.
The industry should set the handicraft export target at $5 billion for the current fiscal year against $ 3.80 billion set for the period, said Mr. Rao.
Union Minister of State for Textiles Panabaaka Lakshmi and Rajasthan Industries Minister Rajendra Pareek also addressed the gathering. Entrepreneurs made presentations on handicrafts sector, carpet manufacturing, blue pottery, wool industry and block-printing sector.
The handicraft productivity centre, to cost Rs.10 crore, will provide handicraft resources and a testing centre in addition to several other facilities.
Mr. Rao later inaugurated the Jaipur Texcraft Park – the only industrial park in the country with the mandate for hand block-printing and craft – at Bagru, near here. The project will give a new direction to the block-printing industry, presently concentrated in Sanganer town, and provide international exposure to crafts-persons.