THOOTHUKUDI: Safety match manufacturers in the district are bearing the brunt of the recent hike in fuel prices and toll fee, besides the units resuming production with only 50 per cent of their workforce. They claimed that the benefits of the recent reduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) levied, from 18 per cent to 12 per cent, has been countered by the increase in expenditure.
National Small Match Manufacturers Association Secretary V S Sethurathinam said that the fuel price and toll fee hike have stoked up the cost, which is reflected in the transport charges. He said that most of the lorry drivers, transporting goods to the northern states, have hiked the freight charges by 50 per cent, citing the price hike and the unavailability of cargo for their return journey. Transporting one load of 4,500 safety match bundles to New Delhi in a lorry now costs around `1.45 lakh, as against the earlier price of `1 lakh, he said, increasing the cost by `10 per bundle of 600 matchboxes. "This has adversely affected the business that stays on a thin margin," he added.
The 120 safety match manufacturing units in Kovilpatti and its surrounding villages have resumed operations, with a reduced workforce and only one work shift per day, as against the earlier three. the manufacturers said that they also have to expend more towards maintaining hygiene and social distancing.
Raw material shortage
The lockdown restrictions have impeded the allied industries like inner and outer box manufacturing units and printing units. The supply of raw materials, including chemical supplies, timber, splints, and wax, is inadequate, said the manufacturers.
Ilango, a wax safety match manufacturer, said that the supply of inner and outer boxes from Theni, had been slowed.
Tamil Nadu Safety Match Manufacturers Association President Suresh said that the cost of splints, cardboards, and chemicals has increased due to shortage. The price per quintal of splints from Kerala has increased to Rs 500, as the Minimum Wages Act was implemented strictly in the state.