By Seshadri Ramkumar
The textiles industry has something to cherish in the proposed national budget of India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman. During her presentation to the Indian parliament, which lasted nearly three hours, Sitharaman outlined budget priorities: health care; respecting wealth creators; agricultural growth; happy living and national defense.
Amid those priorities is the technical textiles sector. A four-year national technical textiles mission is proposed significant financial support. This sector is currently import intensive, so the initiative should boost its growth and domestic development.
An aspect that has received favorable response from textile mills is the abolition of the anti-dumping duty on purified terephthalic acid (PTA) imports, an important input for polyester fibers. “This gesture is of help to the synthetic fibers industry as India imports it from Thailand and South Korea in addition to having domestic source,” said Krishnasamy Pothiraj, a consultant with Shubhalakshmi Polyesters Ltd. “As approximately 0.85 kilogram of PTA is required for 1 kilogram of polyester fiber manufacturing, availability and competitive price will help the textile industry,” Pothiraj said.
Other budgetary items are seen as growth and diversification instigators. “Emphasis on infrastructure with the building of over 100 airports, skill development programs and cold storage facilities in railways will support industrial growth,” said Sridhar Narayanan, Tamil Nadu state convener in the education sector.
The textile sector should utilize the national mission on technical textiles to diversify, said Shanmugam Velmurugan, general manager of Jayalakshmi Textiles, a cotton mill in Aruppukottai. Velmurugan cited year-round availability of quality cotton at competitive prices as one avenue of diversification.
Support for micro, small and medium-size enterprises and startups may enable in-house employment generation, which is the need of the hour. Startups may be wise, too, to take advantage of the Make in India campaign to develop value-added textiles.