Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry (Independent Charge) Nirmala Sitharaman on Fiday assured stakeholders that a decision on the crisis now gripping rubber-growers would be taken without favouritism.
“Nobody would be ignored” and everyone would be taken on board while arriving at a decision in a time-bound manner, she told reporters at the end of a meeting with representatives of the State government, led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy; rubber growers, traders, and manufacturing industry.
The Commerce Ministry has been receiving representations from different sections of the industry. Views have been divergent and, some times, contradictory. Any decision to defuse the situation should reflect the ground reality and that is why all stakeholders are being consulted, she said.
Rubber growers have demanded, among other things, a temporary suspension of imports for a period of six months and that import duty on natural rubber be hiked to discourage manufacturing industry.
Manufacturers have complained of persistent shortage of supply in the domestic market and lower price of natural rubber in the international market.
Ms. Sitharaman did not set a timeframe for the decision on demands raised by both the sides of the business but assured stakeholders that the decision would be taken soon.
The Chief Minister was accompanied by Finance Minister K. M. Mani; Minister for Water Resources P. J. Joseph and a group of MPs from the State.
The Ministers and MPs argued for the farmers, who were now reeling under a severe fall in price of natural rubber. Mr. Mani said the price had come down from its peak of about Rs. 260 a kg to the current Rs. 126. The Chief Minister argued for higher rate of duty on import of natural rubber.
The farmers said import of natural rubber was the biggest culprit in the current crisis. They demanded that import duty be hiked to 30 per cent or Rs. 40 a kg, whichever was higher against the current 20 per cent or Rs. 30 a kg, whichever was lower. Rubber industry, represented by Automotive Tyre Manufacturers’ Association, argued that the import duty rate was the “highest in the world”.
– The Hindu