Rationalisation: Textile Ministry to close 2 PSUs, withdraw officers from export councils

Five advisory boards abolished, officers withdrawn from textile research associations

Published - August 11, 2020 05:21 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Union Minister for Textiles Smriti Irani with Textiles Secretary Ravi Capoor during a video conference in New Delhi. File

Union Minister for Textiles Smriti Irani with Textiles Secretary Ravi Capoor during a video conference in New Delhi. File

The Union Textile Ministry has abolished five advisory boards, withdrawn officers from industry bodies and is planning to withdraw its representatives from export promotion councils as well as shutting down two public sector undertakings (PSUs) as a part of a rationalisation exercise, according to a top official.

The Ministry wound up the All-India Handloom Board on July 27; the All-India Handicrafts Board and the Cotton Advisory Board on August 3; and the All-India Powerloom Board and the Jute Advisory Board on August 4, according to notifications that all cited the Centre’s “vision of minimum government and maximum governance” as the reason for the decision. The notifications said boards were abolished in the interest of “leaner government machinery and the need for systematic rationalisation of government bodies”.

The Ministry also withdrew its officers from the Textile Research Associations (TRAs), after converting them into “approved bodies for conducting testing, research and developmental activities” related to the sector, as opposed to affiliated bodies, according to an August 6 notification.

Oversight over projects

Textile Ministry Secretary Ravi Capoor said the decisions were a part of a larger Ministry-wide rationalisation exercise, which would likely be completed by the end of October. Mr. Capoor said the Ministry was also working on withdrawing its officers from the various export promotion councils. However, it would continue to have oversight over projects or events where government funds are used by the councils and TRAs through smaller committees.

Two PSUs under the Ministry — the British India Corporation and the Handicrafts and Handlooms Exports Corporation of India Ltd. — have been proposed to be shut down. According to sources, a Cabinet note has been circulated for the same. The BIC was declared a “sick company in 1992”, according to the Ministry’s website, and plans to close down the HHEC have been in the offing since at least 2018, as the corporation’s annual report for 2017-2018 said. In 2017-2018, it had a turnover of ₹613.95 crore and a net loss after taxes of ₹23.61 crore, the report said.

Criticism from activists

The Ministry’s decision to wind up the advisory boards had faced criticism from activists. Laila Tyabji, founder of the NGO Dastkar, had termed the move to abolish the handicrafts’ board ‘worrying’ as it had been a forum for craftspeople to communicate directly with the government.

Asked how the concerns of stakeholders would be addressed, Mr. Capoor said the Ministry was reaching out to craftspeople and weavers through its 100 field offices. He said a special two-month programme was held where officials visited villages near their respective field offices to interact with those engaged in handicrafts and handloom sectors. He said these ‘chaupal’ programmes would be held every two to three months.

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