Maran wants leather industry to focus on brand building

CHENNAI JAN. 31. The Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Mr. Murasoli Maran, today announced that the Government was actively considering extension of the "scope'' of the Tannery Modernisation Fund Scheme.

Without elaborating further on the proposal, Mr. Maran said the scheme, launched on a pilot basis in January 2000, had received an "overwhelming response.'' So far 82 tanneries had made use of the assistance to the extent of Rs. 9.37 crores, and another 55 tanneries had completed the proposed modernisation at a cost of Rs. 6.43 crores.

Inaugurating the India International Leather Fair (IILF 2002) at the Chennai Trade Centre, Mr. Maran said he was "sure'' that the dereservation of many leather products from the purview of the small-scale sector last year would enhance the inflow of foreign direct investment and opportunities for joint ventures.

"The Government, through the Tenth Plan, is planning to launch in a big way the effort to provide all the incentives and infrastructure facilities (needed) for accelerated development of this sector, where India enjoys a comparative advantage. With the focus of foreign investment in mind, two integrated tannery projects are proposed on a pilot basis where a team of government officials and industries will provide every facility promptly,'' he said.

While expressing satisfaction with the positive growth of 1.4 per cent achieved by leather sector exports during April-October this fiscal in the face of world

recession and "adverse and unjust campaign initiated by some against our leather industry,'' he said India still had a long way to go as its share in the global

leather trade was only 2.35 per cent. Mr. Maran pointed out that the "massive relocation'' of the leather industry from the U.S., Europe and South Korea in the past decade was taken advantage of by China, Indonesia and of late by Vietnam and had not benefited India. "It is time we took a close look at the global picture and take immediate measures to augment export of leather and leather products,'' he said. He also called upon the industry to invest in brand promotion and at the same time support the national effort of image building through innovations in marketing, backed by quality of production and development of a suitable supply line.

The Minister, who distributed export awards of the Council for Leather Exports (CLE), announced that the ITPO would build within one year a Convention Centre in the Chennai Trade Centre, "may be, on a BOT (build, operate, transfer) basis.''

Earlier, leaders of the leather and leather products industry called for enhancement of the grant component of the Tannery Modernisation Fund, stability in duty drawback rates and retention of the exporter-friendly DEPB (duty entitlement pass book) scheme.

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