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Local artisans facing threat

By Staff reporter

GUWAHATI, June 20 � Facing tough competition from Chinese bamboo products on their home turf, the indigenous bamboo entrepreneurs of the State have asked the National Bamboo Mission (NBM) to levy Safeguard Duty on import of all bamboo products for at least next 15 years.

According to the Federation of Bamboo Industries of Assam (FOBIA), bamboo industry in the State and the country as well, is still at nascent stage, while the big players like China and Thailand have flooded the Indian market with their bamboo products.

�These bamboo products are being imported under the category of handicraft items so that it would fall under �low custom duty� category of products. The Chinese bamboo industry � at least 20 years ahead of the Indian industry, have quality bamboo processing machines, trained manpower and technical expertise to give a tough competition to the Indian bamboo industry not just in the International market but on Indian turf as well, which is making life miserable for Indian entrepreneurs,� the FOBIA informed the Additional Secretary, Government of India, NBM through a memorandum.

Putting forth the problem of the indigenous bamboo entrepreneurs, the organization said that good quality bamboo processing machines are not available in India and if the businessmen import machines with full duty payment, the project would not be viable for them.

�We strongly feel that export commitment under the Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme (EPCG) for bamboo sector should be waived for the bamboo units. Without this waiver, the survival of these units would be impossible,� the FOBIA mentioned.

According to it even if the total export obligation of existing bamboo units is waived, the loss of government exchequer in terms of custom duty would be around 2-3 crore, which is negligible considering the amount spent by the Union government through NBM and National Mission on Bamboo Application (NMBA).

The organization also suggested that custom duty on import of machines, spares and consumables for bamboo processing units should be waived for at least 10 years.

The memorandum was submitted by Rajib Goswami and Gautam Kothari of FOBIA after a review meet with the representatives of the bamboo based industries in the NE Region called by the NBM to take stock of availability and future demand of bamboo as a raw material and discuss the innovative use of bamboo in various products including handicrafts, furniture, incense-sticks, industry products, etc.

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