Indian government supports garment companies

Indian government supports garment companies

The Union textile ministry is considering a 3.5 per cent interest subvention on the working capital loan of garment companies, in a bid to counter stagnation in exports because of stiff competition

The high cost of finance has been a major barrier for growth of the textiles sector.

“In order to boost the textile sector, we have announced several incentives in the last few months. The major area of concern, however, remains high cost of production because of elevated interest rates on working capital,” said Rashmi Verma, secretary, Union textiles ministry.

She added: “Some interest subvention has to be given to the textile sector to make India’s products competitive vis-à-vis other countries such as Bangladesh and Vietnam where capital is availed to the textiles players at much lower interest rate than those here.”

According to trade sources, borrowing working capital at high interest rate keeps product prices up, resulting in lowering India’s competitiveness in the world market. In consequence, countries with lower interest rate regimes, such Bangladesh, Vietnam, Ethiopia and Indonesia, are taking advantage of growth in the global textiles sector.

Despite repeated efforts by the government to promote export through various sops, only about USD 40 billion of textiles per year have been supplied by India to the global market over the past several years. In fact, this year, textile imports are expected to decline to USD 40 billion from USD 42 billion last year, mostly because of the global economic slowdown.

To address the concern, the textiles ministry has sent a proposal to the finance ministry to chalk out working capital availability at a maximum interest rate of seven per cent, said textile ministry Secretary Rashmi Verma. She added: “The textile ministry is of the view that the working capital should be made available at attractive rates — such as prevalent in Bangladesh or Vietnam, if not less, to make India competitive.”

 Dilip Jiwrajka, managing director, Alok Industries, in a recent interaction, had estimated average interest rate on working capital between 10.5 % and 11 %, and had urged the government to bring it down. “When the Technology Upgradation-Fund-Scheme was introduced first in early nineties, the average interest rate on working capital was offered at three per cent, which brought lots of investment into the textile sector. But, now the interest rate has surged to around 11 %, which has made servicing the debt difficult,” said Jiwrajka.

The textile sector contributes nearly seven per cent to India’s gross domestic product, and 13 per cent to merchandised exports.

Recently, India introduced the amended TUFS for attracting more investment. The government has also announced the inclusion of manmade fibre for up to 15 per cent in exports to get benefit of duty drawbacks.

Textile ministry secretary said: “Most textile units are small and fragmented. These avail no economies of scale and have low productivity.” She also emphasised on increasing value addition locally and reducing exports of raw materials like cotton and yarn in addition to tax holidays to textiles mills to compensate the loss incurred through free-trade agreements.

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