South Indian Match Manufacturers' Association has appealed to the State and Central governments to stop import of cheap cigarette lighters made in China which were making inroads into the market for safety matches and pushing the industry into a crisis.
In a statement, Association secretary J. Devadoss said this region was the largest hub of manufacturers and exporters of safety matches in the world. The industry was contributing ₹400 crore towards GST and earning foreign exchange equivalent to ₹400 crore annually.
The manufacturing units were mostly located in drought-prone areas and were offering employment to a very large number of workers on a permanent basis and playing a remarkable role in improving their living conditions by developing their educational, health and hygiene standards.
The industry, which was selling matchboxes at the lowest rate of one rupee per piece, had become crisis-ridden due to competition from China-made imported cigarette lighters. Consequently, the demand for match boxes was falling and the match units were working only for four to five days in a week.
Due to lower sales volume, match industries did not break even and defaulted in loan repayment.
Workers were also suffering due to a fall in income. If the present conditions were allowed to continue, match industry and the lakhs of workers dependent on the industry would be in a total disarray, Mr. Devadoss said.