Gems & jewellery sector appeals for interim relief

Written by Commodities Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Dec 17 2008, 05:53am hrs
The current economic slowdown has pushed the gems and jewellery industry into a tight corner, and has forced it to seek interim relief from the government. The alarm bell was sounded by the industry representative Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC). The council has appealed to the government to intervene, and provide urgent and immediate interim relief to prevent the imminent crisis and loss of 25%-30% of its labour force due to recession-enforced layoffs, Vasant Mehta, chairman GJEPC, said. Already the 20 days given for Diwali to workers has been extended to an unprecedented 40 days, with no certainty of when the total workforce will actually be called back. Around 13 lakh workers and their families depend on the sector for their livelihood.

The gem and jewellery sector had been hit badly with the US, which accounts for nearly 35% of the countrys exports, reeling under a severe recession, Mehta said.The overall exports of gems and jewellery have gone down by 34.25% in November and a similar trend is expected during the current month of December. At the manufacturing level, exports of cut and polished diamonds are down by a little over 20% as compared to the same period last year. Orders have seen an average 20% fall between April-October 2008, he said.

Availability of gold and release of more dollar credit are some of the major concerns of the industry, Mehta said. All status holders must be permitted to import gold directly and sell it to exporters. This will help alleviate the crisis of an inequitable gold supply confronting the industry and enable smaller exporters fulfill their requirements of gold in smaller quantities, he added.