Special Correspondent

It will be created with a dedicated start-up capital of Rs.500 crore

CHENNAI: The Centre will soon set up a National Fund for Unorganised Sector for issuing loans to handloom weavers and artisans at subsidised rates, Savitur Prasad, Joint Secretary, National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, said on Tuesday.

Talking to reporters here, he said the fund would be created with a dedicated start-up capital of Rs.500 crore, which would be increased to Rs.1,000 crore over the next five years. It would lend loans up to Rs.50,000 to artisans and weavers, based upon their financial ability.

Mr. Prasad said most skilled workers did not get credit on time; they borrowed from moneylenders at a high rate, and remained indebted for long.

“Commercial banks have been lending to farmers, for purchase of real estate and housing to meet their targets under the priority sector lending programme. The advances to the unorganised sector should form part of the priority sector lending, and loans should be given at 7 per cent interest a year like agricultural credit or at 4 per cent per annum. That’s why we did not want the National Fund for Unorganised Sector to be part of the NABARD or SIDBI.”

Pat for Co-optex

Mr. Prasad was here to review the conditions of the handloom co-operative societies in the State. He appreciated the Co-optex management for adopting a modern management system that enabled a weaver to interact with the Managing Director directly at any time.

“While weavers’ population is declining in other parts of the country, it is increasing in Tamil Nadu owing to the decentralised model adopted by the Co-optex, and this has to be replicated everywhere. The Co-optex can take the lead, offering consultancy services to others in marketing, counter-based approach and designing, among others.”