KOCHI: Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Commerce & Industry Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday said that the government would come out with the national rubber policy soon. However, the minister, who concluded her two-day visit to the state, refused to give a time-frame for announcing the policy.
Sitharaman said that her meetings with rubber growers representatives, tyre manufacturers, Parliament members from the rubber-growing regions, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Finance Minister K M Mani gave her valuable inputs.
In June, the Union Government constituted an expert committee headed by Additional Secretary (Plantations), Department of Commerce, to formulate the national rubber policy.
“Figures show that import of natural rubber were more than the deficit in domestic demand and supply,” the minister said at a news conference here.
She, however, said the additional imports may not be from the tyre industry and only a detailed study would reveal the fact.
Earlier this week, former Rubber Board chairman P C Cyriac had said the production of natural rubber in the country was 8.5 lakh tonnes while the actual demand was about 9.25 lakh tonnes, but the volume of rubber imported was several time more than the deficit of 1.05 lakh tonnes.
Sitharaman said the government was taking all efforts to recover the money lost to investors in the `5500-crore NSEL scam. “We are at it,” Sitharaman, who also handles the Corporate Affairs portfolio, said.
The minister said she had convened a meeting of all investors of NSEL and steps would be initiated to help investors to come out of the financial crisis.
On LNG Petronet project, revival of FACT and approval of a second Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Kochi, she said the state government should shoulder the burden equally so that these Kerala projects and undertakings get the Central assistance. “We are quite open to allow a multi-focused SEZ or a focused SEZ in Kochi,” she said.
BJP state president V Muraleedharan pointed out that eight states in the country have given consent to the Union Railway Ministry to equally share the financial burden on new projects. However, Kerala is yet to give its consent and because of this “we are losing prestigious projects such as Sabari railway project,” he said.
‘Innovation Vital for Growth’
Sitharaman said that without innovation, the present generation of businesses would not grow. She was speaking after inaugurating a seminar on ‘Importance of International Trade in the Economic Growth of India’ at Mattanchery here on Saturday. The seminar was organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), in association with Hindusthan Samachar. According to her, trade is the driver of economic prosperity. “The value of India’s merchandise export was US$3.41 Bln in 2013-14, a growth of 6 per cent. This was achieved despite the global recession. The Commerce Ministry’s aim is to make India a significant player in trade by 2020. The country’s stake in international trade increased from 1.77 per cent in 2008 to 2.27 per cent in 2013. Our goal is to raise it to 3.5 per cent by 2018-19,” the Minister said.
Further, she pointed out that all states should become instrumental in the development of the country, and that the states and the Centre should work as a team.
Suresh Unnithan, bureau chief, Hindustan Samachar Kerala; L N Balla, patron, Hindustan Smamchar; A A Abdul Azeez, president, ICCI; Bharat Khona, director, Hindustan Samachar; and V Muralidharan spoke.