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Open Permits, Easier Import Norms in FTP asks Marble Industry

September 21, 2014

Forced to shell out higher prices for importing finished marble from countries like China, the Rs. 20,000-crore Indian marble industry is seeking open permits and removal of import limits in the new Foreign Trade Policy.

Industry bodies have also sought Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s intervention in this regard and have written a letter for removal of quantitative restrictions on imports and easier imports under open general licences (OGL), among others.

India meets a bulk of its rough marble requirements through imports as domestic demand is pegged at 4.8 crore tonnes while the domestic supply is capped at 1.16 crore tonnes. The country’s marble industry is concentrated in states like Rajasthan and Gujarat.

“If rough marble is allowed, we can import and become competitive by re-exporting finished marble after value addition leading to huge forex gains. We also want the new foreign trade policy to help us compete at the global level by using OGL. Our Rs 20,000-crore industry is facing the risk of big losses in export earnings and job losses,” Parveen Goel, Executive Member, All Delhi Marble Dealers Association.

 

Marble dealers say that out of over 500 players in the formal industry, less than 10 per cent are enjoying of 50 per cent of the total licences, which is leading to anti-competitive practices. According to a Planning Commission Working Group report, India should allow import of dimensional blocks (granite and marble) under OGL.

“As per the current policy only those units are eligible to import rough marble which have been in operation for 5 years on or prior to 31.03.2013 and should have cumulative turnover of at least Rs 5 crore during FY08-12, among others. This is leading to a monopoly of big players and encouraging black marketing,” J B Surana, President, Federation of All India Granite and Stone Industry.

According to Delhi Marble Dealers Association, government may earn additional revenue through license fee/ additional charge of approximately Rs 2,000 crore if OGL is adopted for rough marble under the foreign policy 2014-19.

The Commerce Ministry is scheduled to announce the new five-year Foreign Trade Policy (2014-19) soon as it seeks to boost manufacturing and exports. The new policy would focus on a wide range of issues, including services exports, standards and branding of product.

India’s exports in the last three years have been hovering around $300 billion, and steps are on to boost it further and enhance its contribution in the world trade. All exports and import–related activities are governed by the FTP.

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