A Parliamentary Committee has recommended that India’s new natural rubber (NR) policy should be announced in the next three months. The panel has also said the free trade agreements (FTAs) with various countries need re-examination.
The report on the ‘Indian Rubber Industry’, prepared by a Parliamentary committee headed by Chandan Mitra, was tabled in both houses of Parliament this week. The 30-member committee includes veterans like Vayalar Ravi and Joy Abraham.
Only a meagre R1.53 crore has been utilised from the Centre’s R1,011.69-crore price stabilisation fund for crops. Urgent measures should be taken to improve the utilisation of the price stabilisation scheme, says the report. The committee has examined in detail, the issues faced by rubber growers, including the fall in the skilled labour force.
To guarantee tax exemptions, farm loans and other benefits, rubber needs to be categorised as an agricultural crop, the committee says. For decades, rubber latex produced from the rubber tree, has been categorised as “industrial product”. This recommendation could make a major difference for rubber, which is going through price fluctuations.
The main recommendations of the panel include the appointment of a full-time chairman for the rubber board. To check cheap quality imports, the FTAs with ASEAN nations, Sri Lanka, Singapore and Malaysia should be re-opened for fresh dialogue, the committee said. The quantum of NR imports should be determined estimating the gap between domestic NR production and consumption. The rubber board should prepare detailed short-term, mid-term and long-term plans to improve production of NR, the panel said. PTI