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  • Special package sought for cashew sector

    Sep 26th, 2016

    In a major effort to revive the ailing cashew industry in Kerala, the Cashew export promotion council of India (Cepci) has made a plea to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union ministers of finance and industry to implement a special revival package with a five-point remedial plan to reverse the downward trend in cashew exports. It seeks to revive the once prosperous industry that provided employment to 10 lakh rural workers, mainly women.In the representation submitted to the PM, Cepci emphasised on allowing time for cashew factories to repay the loans taken from banks in instalments. The submission also seeks to provide special relaxations in non-performing asset rules to avoid classifying cashew industry loans as bad loans (NBA), restrain from moves to freeze or take over the collateral property or stocks, converting the eroded working capital loan into term loans repayable over a long term period and allowing fresh low interest loans for raw nut procurement, for automation and mechanisation of factories.

    In a request submitted to the Union finance minister Arun Jaitely and minister of state for commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman, Cepci chairman P Sundaram has outlined specific issues pertaining to the cashew industry and sought their intervention in resolving them.Cepci officials said that the five-point remedial measures suggested include roll back of import duty imposed on raw nuts with retrospective effort from March 1, restoration of export incentives to 5%, restructuring of standard input-output norms on prevailing value basis as quantity-based norms are not viable in case of agriculture products.

    They said compliance checks and action be taken against a processor only if he fails to meet his export obligations within the allowed time period of 18 months. Finally, in case of exports made out of imported duty-paid raw nuts, the duty drawback should be made equal to the duty paid on inputs and the same rates should be made applicable for exports from domestic raw nuts.The newly introduced import duty on the industry has hit the industry hard. As per the new provisions, duty-free import is possible only if kernels weighing 25% of the raw nuts imported and worth 15% more in value are exported within 18 months. The present outturn stands at a disheartening 12 to 18%.

    "Apart from the import duty burden, the slashing of export incentives has also led to the drastic fall in exports," said Sundaram."While the present trade policy gives priority to industries, which are agriculture-based, labour-oriented, women-centric and exportoriented, the cashew industry which more than qualifies under all these categories, has been denied eligible benefits and subjected to a drastic cut in export incentives," he added.