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Thursday, August 11, 2022

India: Ban rubber imports: Chandy

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy on Thursday demanded a total ban on rubber imports, besides seeking imposition of higher duty rates on synthetic, sheet and block rubber and other rubber products.

Rubber was one of the main issues that Chief Minister Oommen Chandy brought up during his meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi on Thursday, highlighting the adverse impact of some of the policy perspectives on small and marginal cultivators in the State.

Substantiating his demand for a total ban on rubber imports in his memorandum to the Prime Minister, Mr. Chandy said the Rubber Board had assessed a supply-demand gap in natural rubber for 2014-15 at 60,000 tonnes only. So far, 3.25 lakh tonnes of natural rubber had been imported as against the domestic stock of 1.8 lakh tonnes. This discrepancy has had its impact on the domestic prices, pushing it down to Rs. 120 a kg from Rs. 240 a kg a few years back.

The State government sought duty hike on sheet rubber and rubber products from the current 8 per cent to 40 per cent in order to prevent the import of huge quantities of non-tyre finished products from China much to the detriment of the domestic small-scale rubber industries. The memorandum wanted an import cess of Rs. 2 per kg on synthetic rubber as in the case of natural rubber by amending the relevant section in the Rubber Act. In order to discourage import of block rubber, the Chief Minister suggested enhancement of import duty on block rubber by 40 per cent.

Mr. Chandy suggested formulation of soft interest loan schemes and interest subvention in order to improve productivity. His memorandum also wanted the Centre to include treated rubber timber/wood as an agriculture by-product and exempt it from the existing excise duty of 28 per cent. This would facilitate a smooth interstate transit of rubber wood, besides enabling farmers to get a better price. The other points highlighted by the Chief Minister are inclusion of rubber industry to be included in the Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ scheme, a price stabilisation scheme and more representation for farming community in the natural rubber policy formulation committee.

– The Hindu

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