Delay in inspection of imported rubber hits industry

Written by M Sarita Varma | Thiruvananthapuram | Updated: Apr 19 2011, 05:38am hrs
Delay in mandatory inspection of the quality of imported natural rubber (NR) carried out by government is strangulating inventory management, the rubber industry has said.

The inspections also do not reveal enough inferior sheets to merit the delay in process, it has noted While All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) has urged the commerce ministry to get the inspections stopped, the Automative Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA) has written to Rubber Board to consider doing away with the inspection raj for quality imports.

According to sources, the Rubber Board is studying this plea, although it may not be considered in the meeting of the Board on April 18. The delay in inventory movement because of the quality inspection is hurting the tyre industry, Rajiv Budhiraja, director-general, ATMA, told FE.

Sometimes, the delay in inspection would be due to unintended factors like government holidays, we feel that the inspection itself is avoidable, he said To restrict sub-quality rubber imports, in December 2004, Centre had clamped two curbs. One was the port-based curb, by which natural rubber could be imported only through two ports, Kolkatta and Vizag. The second was that the dumping of low-quality sheets from other rubber-producing countries should be avoided by random quality checks by Rubber Board. The first one was dropped through a court order, after it was challenged by consuming industry.

This curb of inspection would have been valid only the domestic rubber price was low as in 2004. It is not in tune with then R200-plus per kg domestic price for RSS-4 now, says Budhiraja.

ATMA argues that a tyre firm would be able to afford to buy natural rubber that does not meet quality standards, since the resultant fall in quality in the finished product would affect their market. The onus would be on the industry, rather than the government, to use rubber that meets quality standards.

The quality inspection serves only to cause delays, says Vinod Simon, President, AIRIA. The rejection rate of imported natural rubber by Rubber Board is less than 1%. This shows that the provision can be dispensed with, he says.

From May 2011, Centre has included several rubber products including automative tyres and tubes, in the list of products that should have mandatory BIS or ISI quality certification.

Thus quality marking of raw material like natural rubber is redundant. Natural rubber is not an end product (for direct consumption by the consumer) in the form that it is imported. Instead it is a raw material and it has to go through a long process of manufacturing to make end products like tyres or other rubber products, says ATMAs letter to Rubber Board.