On the eve of the crucial meeting of the rubber policy formulation committee, the war over the veracity of domestic rubber stock data has picked up heat.
Almost in response to last week’s plea by United Planters Association of South India to the Centre to prop up the sagging domestic natural rubber (NR) price by clamping down on imports, the user industry has cast aspersions on the stock data, based on which the national policy on rubber will be finalised this week.
A whopping one lakh tonne of rubber stock has been “adjusted without explanation” by the Rubber Board, alleges the consuming industry. “We have communicated the serious consequences of such stock anomalies to the ministry of commerce,” says Rajiv Budhraja, director general, Automotive Tyre Manufacturers Association (ATMA). All India Rubber Industries Association (AIRIA) had earlier expressed doubts over the data projected by Rubber Board, but this is the first time they have come up with a figure.
In its letter to the additional secretary, plantations department of commerce, who is also chairman of the expert committee to draft NR policy, the user industry has pointed out that NR stock figures (August 2014), as released by the Rubber Board ,show a discrepancy of about one lakh tonne. “Our estimate of stock is based on time-honoured calculations and fine-tuned processes. There is no reason to doubt the correctness of our stock data,” Sheela Thomas, chairperson, Rubber Board, said.
ATMA estimates that, based on the opening stock of NR in April 2014 and factoring in the parameters of production, consumption, import and export, the closing stock should have been 2.85 lakh tonne by August 2014. However, the stock figure published by the Board is 1.85 lakh mt. “The stock figure is a derived one and import and export figures are fairly accurate. This means either production has been overestimated or consumption has been underestimated,” says the industry’s letter to the commerce ministry.
All stakeholders, including ATMA, AIRIA, rubber growers, dealers and Rubber Board, are set to meet at Kochi on Friday to draw up the national policy on rubber. “Since government policy is determined by import (as well as stock), such an anomaly will lead to flawed assumptions and hence erroneous outcomes,” says Mohinder Gupta, president, AIRIA.