Govt’s skilling programme ‘secondary’ as poor demand dragging down textile MSMEs, says industry body

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Updated: August 15, 2019 7:12:04 PM

Even as the textiles ministry on Wednesday signed the memorandum of associations (MoU) with 16 states to provide skill training to workers as part of its ‘Samarth’ scheme for capacity building in the textile sector, it has cut no ice with the industry.

The ministry, as part of the government’s skill development initiative, had implemented the Integrated Skill Development Scheme from 2010 to 2017.

Even as the textiles ministry on Wednesday signed the memorandum of associations (MoU) with 16 states to provide skill training to workers as part of its ‘Samarth’ scheme for capacity building in the textile sector, it has cut no ice with the industry. “The textiles industry is going down for the last 1.5-2 years performing well below its capacity but the government is not bothered about it. Since there is very poor demand, MSMEs are finding it tough to survive and curtailing their workforce. In such case, skill development is the secondary thing,” T.K. Sengupta, President, The Textiles Association (India)  — national body for textile professionals told Financial Express Online.

“Nonetheless, while we need skilled labour in order to adopt digital technologies but what the government is doing for skilled labour is not up to the mark. Efforts have been made by the government but it is not sufficient in skill development,” said Sengupta. Ministry of textiles secretary Ravi Capoor said that there is a gap of 16 lakh trained skilled workers in the textiles industry.

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs had approved the formation of Samarth from FY18 to FY20 called as a “placement oriented programme” for meeting the skill requirements of the textiles sector. The scheme has targeted training 10 lakh youth by 2020 across spinning and weaving in the organized sector, with a projected outlay of Rs 1300 crore.

Signing the MoU with the state governments, textiles minister Smriti Zubin Irani said that 75% of the workers engaged in the textiles sector and 70% of the beneficiaries of the Mudra loan are women.

The disparity in GST rates is another cause of concern for the textiles sector. “Prices for making cotton yarn is higher due to which those buying yarn and making fabric are finding it very expensive. So there is poor demand. GST is 18 per cent for synthetic fibre and when the yarn is made the GST is 12 per cent while for making fabric it is 5 per cent. So there is the abnormality of GST,” said Sengupta adding that India’s garment exports are only $16-17 billion annually much lower in comparison to even countries like Bangladesh, which exports garments worth $30 billion, second highest after China.

The ministry, as part of the government’s skill development initiative, had implemented its flagship skilling scheme — Integrated Skill Development Scheme from 2010 to 2017 under which 11.14 lakh people were trained by March 2018 and 8.41 lakh persons were provided placement, the ministry said in a statement.

India’s textile exports for FY18 stood at $ 39.2 billion and is likely to go up to $ 82 billion by 2021 while the industry is worth around $ 150 billion that is expected to reach $ 250-billion mark by this year, according to India Brand Equity Foundation.

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