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Special ReportsOct 2013
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Handicrafts Exports units Suffer
A two-day interactive workshop and an open house attended by the local handicrafts exporters and representatives of the Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts projected a very dismal scenario, requiring governmental intervention.
The meeting convened to discuss the "Potential of exports of handicrafts from Agra region," demanded a financial package to pull the industry out of the deep gloom and economic uncertainty.
Rajeev Tiwari, president of the Foreign Tourists and Traders Association, in an interview to SME WORLD, said "service tax should not be levied on handicrafts sector, the income tax relief withdrawn should continue, duty drawbacks should be enhanced, interest rates on loans should be further reduced."
The meeting, he said, discussed the problems faced by the industry in the region that includes not only Agra, but also Aligarh, Moradabad, Mathura, Firozabad and several smaller towns which produced stonewares, marble pieces, carpets, brassware, zari, embroidery, glassware etc.
Agra alone had more than 150 exporters of handicraft items, produced by over a lakh workers. This is in addition to the leather industry whose exports exceeded Rs 1400 crores. Handicraft exports from Agra ranged between Rs 300 to 350 crores annually.
Tourism industry leaders including Prahlad Agarwal of the Agra Tourist Welfare Chamber demanded a special package for Agra because "Agra's case was special and unique. Dont treat Agra at par with other cities. Agra has suffered the most from the war against pollution with a large number of industries forced to close down."
Rajiv Tiwari said Agra badly and urgently needed a dry port and a mechanism to train and groom up new exporters. The working conditions for the craftsmen and artisans should improve and facilities provided for upgradation of skills.
Tiwari wanted International fairs to be held in Agra at regular intervals. "The experiment with leather products fairs has been very successful. Because of the Taj Mahal and other monuments Agra remains a major centre for handicrafts industry. Efforts should therefore be made to promote this pollution free industry which has a high potential for providing jobs."
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The Last Word
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