Integrated textile policy hanging by a thread! Indian textile industry faces the music

by Apparel Resources

18-September-2018  |  7 mins read

More than two years ago, in 2016, talking to the media, the then India Textile Minister of the state Santosh Kumar Gangwar assured that the long-awaited National Textile policy is nearing finalisation and will be announced soon. The draft of the policy was shared on an open forum and relevant comments and opinions were taken, giving an impression that the final policy would be out soon. Yet, nothing has been declared, so far. In February, 2018 Smriti Irani, present Indian Textile Minister said that the Textiles Ministry is working on finalising this policy, but she can’t give any date for the same. As the country gets ready for next parliament elections, a large chunk of the industry believes that it seems difficult that this policy will be out any time soon. With the target of achieving US $ 300 billion textile exports by 2024-25 and creating around 35 million new employment opportunities, the policy was supposed to give a relief to the entire supply chain of the textile industry. Most importantly, in the presence of such a policy, industry can plan for long term. Apparel Resources talked to various stakeholders, association members of the textile and clothing industry across India on this issue and tried to figure out what the industry looses due to the non-existence of policy.

“Yes, such a policy will be more than welcome and could provide a long-term vision to the Industry. However, it needs a lot of deliberations, and it seems difficult to happen very soon,” says Sanjay K Jain, MD, TT Ltd.; and Chairman, CITI, Textile Sector Council, NITRA, Delhi

Some of the industry representatives are of the opinion that as the Government is taking important decisions time to time and supporting the industry, there is no such hard requirement for such a policy, at least for apparel export industry. Dr. A. Sakthivel, Vice Chairman, AEPC, Gurgaon; and Regional Chairman, FIEO, (Southern Region), Tirupur shared, “In my personal opinion, I think the policy is not as important as compared to the support the industry requires. Apparel export industry got support from the government, be it a special package or some other forms in the recent decisions taken.” As far as policy’s impact on the entire supply chain is concerned, he denied to comment anything.

On the other side, there are strong voices who feel that if the policy could see the light of the day well on time, overall Indian textile and apparel industry would have been comparatively in a better position. Vinod Thapar, President, Knitwear and Textile Club, Ludhiana comments,If we could have the integrated textile policy in place and well on time, we could have proper planning and better business too. For example, on yarn prices, there is a fluctuation of nearly Rs. 50 per kg, which sadly is manipulated by some industry people only. We can’t have a proper booking order due to this fluctuation. We wish, whenever the policy will be implemented, there will be some mechanism to control this fluctuation.”

He further adds that such a policy needs coordination within the various government ministries and not just the Ministry of Textiles, the Ministry of Commerce, and Ministry of Finance. “As far as coordination between various ministries and departments is concerned, we have a ‘bitter’ experience, as despite the involvement of top representatives of MoT, it took about seven months to get a clearance on a point from the Government officials,” said Vinod.

Lalit Thukral, President, Noida Apparel Export Cluster (NAEC), is also of the opinion that if industry could get this policy on time, definitely things could have improved, better than the current situation. “As of now Noida’s overall apparel export is nearly 30 per cent down; if we had had a favourable policy, things could have been different,” he informed.

Lalit is positive about the government’s initiative and expects that whenever industry will get a policy, it will definitely benefit apparel export fraternity. “Definitely, the government officials should see that why the policy could not see the light of the day so far,” he added.

Disappointed with the government, some of the stakeholders question its tall claims of full support and favourable policies in place, despite of which, the industry is going through a rough patch. More than 2 lakh looms in Surat are not operational.

Ashok Jirawala, President, The Federation of Gujarat Weavers Association (FOGWA), Surat said, “The government is claiming that it has supported the industry, on the contrary, nearly 2 lakh looms in Surat are in loss. Why is it that overall Rs. 400 crores are still pending with the government under TUF subsidy?” He does not expect the policy to be released in the current term of the government. According to him, not only on the integrated textile policy issue, but also in larger perspective, this government has failed to address as far as the textile industry’s issues are concerned. “It seems that the officials either do not have a clear understanding of the industry, or they don’t have interest in the industry,” added Ashok.

Pradeep Nahata, MD, Karni Exports, Jaipur an exporter who is vocal on such issues says that government still doesn’t seem fully prepared for the policy and there are elections in many states, and the ministers are busy there. “Due to upcoming elections, as of now, the government doesn’t want to take any risk with policy-level decision,” concludes Pradeep.

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