Agri Business

‘Modernise jute sector, restructure Board’

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on August 11, 2021

The total turnover of jute industry is around ₹10,000 cr   -  REUTERS

PAC urges Textile Ministry to restructure ‘entire sector’

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament has urged the Union Ministry of Textiles has recommended modernisation of existing industrial production practices in the sector.

In a report tabled on the “failure to implement scheme objectives on disbursement of capital subsidy”, the PAC, headed by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, asked the Ministry to take necessary steps with a futuristic perspective by bringing more land under jute production, encourage jute cultivation and promote the products.

“The entire jute sector, including the National Jute Board (NJB), needs to be restructured to meet these goals,” the report said.

Vast employment

The report noted that the jute industry provides direct employment to 3.7 lakh persons in the organised mills and in diversified units including the tertiary sector and allied activities, and supports the livelihood of several lakhs of farmers’ families.

“The total turnover of jute industry is around ₹10,000 crore, with approximately 40 lakh farmers engaged in jute farming and the country contributing about 70 per cent of the world’s jute production and products. The key to success and growth of the jute industry is modernisation and diversification. Quality jute has to be produced, capacity has to be built, cultivators have to be incentivised and the demand for raw jute has to be met successfully,” the panel said.

The Committee visualise and aspire for a robust jute sector in future with diversified jute products, increased exports as well as domestic consumption. Shrinking land under jute production is a matter of concern for the Committee.

Irregularities

The panel said under the National Jute Policy 2005, the Jute Technology Mission (JTM) was operationalised through four Mini-Missions (MM) during 2007-14 with an outlay of ₹100 crore. A thematic audit was carried out in 2015, suspecting irregularities in implementing the scheme.

The irregularities included disbursal of subsidy for old machines, cotton producing machines, repeatedly extending subsidy on the same machines, machines purchased with the aid of subsidy not being found on the mill’s floor, etc.

“The Committee is dismayed to note thatthe objectives of the capital subsidy scheme could not be achieved due to lack of monitoring by the NJB. They are surprised to note that the irregularities went unnoticed at different levels of administrative hierarchy. There was no system of internal controls to check the mismanagement of the government funds and misappropriation despite having a Chief Vigilance Officer for the NJB. There was also no system to cross check and counter check the violations at the apex level, i.e. at the level of the Ministry,” the panel added.

Published on August 11, 2021

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