Thursday, August 23, 2012

Institutional linkages for the gems & jewellery sector to be strengthened
Measures to boost SEZ exports soon: Anand Sharma
Union Minister for Commerce, Industry & Textiles Shri Anand Sharma has indicated that the government is considering amendments in the SEZ rules, to ensure that the Special Economic Zones remain attractive destinations for investments. SEZs, which came with a bang in 2006, have seen gradual slow-down, even though more than a quarter of country’s exports come from them.

Speaking at the inauguration of the India International Jewellery Show organised by the Gems & Jewellery Exports Promotion Council in Mumbai today, Shri Anand Sharma said, he has already written to the Finance Minister for reconsideration on withdrawal of Minimum Alternate Tax and the Dividend Distribution Tax. “Access to cheap credit at interest rates comparable to those prevalent in competitive international markets has also engaged my attention especially in the wake a slowdown in the economy,” he said.

Shri Sharma informed that the government is working closely with the industry leaders to formulate slew of measures to offer a fillip to SEZ exports. During fiscal 2011-12, exports from SEZs had increased by just 15 per cent to Rs 3,64,477.73 crore, the lowest growth in the last five years.

The Commerce and Industry Minister said the gems and jewellery sector assumed a significant role being the single largest merchandize item of export, earning valuable foreign exchange fetching approximately USD 42 billion. He said the Government, recognising the inherent strengths of this sector in terms of its employability potential has taken major initiatives to strengthen institutional linkages. Enhancing the skill levels of the workers commensurate with the requirement of the industry, tops the agenda and two such centres are being set up at Domjur in West Bengal and Khambat in Gujarat.

Shri Sharma said the Government is also encouraging global partnerships and collaborative ventures for adopting a diversified approach in the jewellery sector. A collaboration with the Antwerp World Diamond Centre has also been sought to strengthen skills in diamond and gem stones grading, certification, research and development, cutting and polishing and setting up state-of-the-art training centres in India.

“We are supportive of the African producers in their quest for beneficiation with their diamond resources, while simultaneously encouraging them to do direct business with India,” Shri Sharma said. He informed that India is setting up a India-Africa Diamond Institute in Botswana, with the Government of India assistance of USD 2.7 million.

The 29th edition of the India International Jewellery Show has attracted participation of over 800 exhibitors with 1800 stalls. The second largest Jewellery Expo in Asia also has country pavilions of Thailand, Israel, Turkey, Belgium and UAE. More than 30,000 business associates are expected to visit the 5 day event being held at the Bombay Exhibition Centre in Goregaon. The organisers expect business upwards of Rs 5,000 crores at the exhibition. 

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