Rubber Board clarifies on amendments to Rubber Act

Aravindan | | Updated on: Jul 28, 2020

There had been many news reports in print and visual media about the repeal of Rubber Act as well as regarding the amendments proposed to it. Rubber Board has issued a press note to bring the factual position in this regard to the knowledge of the public and media.

Rubber Act, which came into existence in 1947, had been amended periodically in the past, with the last set of amendments being effected in 2009. What is intended by the latest proposal is to bring the provisions of the Act in tune with the various changes that have taken place in the sector since then. These amendments are sought to make the functioning of the more focused and transparent and to expand the area of operations to all sectors in the Natural Rubber (NR) value chain.

Focussed approach

The first one is the proposal to remove periodic licensing and replace it with one time registration is a trade-friendly step and would help to increase ease of doing business. This would only help the dealers, processors and manufacturers by freeing them from the task of submitting periodic requests for extension of licences.

The scope of ‘research’ in Rubber Act is proposed to be expanded to included Synthetic and Reclaimed Rubber as well in addition to NR so that it would facilitate assistance to entrepreneurs and manufacturing sector in development of products and research related activities. Similarly, the scope of ‘training’ is proposed to be amended to include training of personnel in all sectors of Rubber industry value chain. Amendment is proposed to facilitate collection of data for statistical purposes from large growers and processors NR and manufacturing industry using NR, synthetic rubber and reclaimed rubber.

Proposed amendments also intend to incorporate in Rubber Act the changes made in Rubber Rules, 1955 in 2016 when the post of Executive Director was notified.

Imports of NR

Rubber Cess which was collected by Rubber Board was subsumed in 2017 when Goods and Services Tax was introduced. The provisions in Rubber Act relating to cess and excise duty and to levy interest on delayed payments for the same have thus become redundant and needs to be removed.

The apprehensions that proposed amendments would dilute or take away the existing powers of Rubber Board, particularly with regard to import of NR, is unfounded. Import of Natural Rubber was brought under Open General List (OGL) from 2001 onwards in line with commitments given to World Trade Organisation (WTO). The recommendations made by Rubber Board had relevance only during the period prior to 2001 when imports could be effected using Special licences issued for this purpose. Imports are taking place presently because there is a huge gap between production of Natural Rubber in the country and its consumption by the domestic industry.

Staff cut

The proposal to bring down the staff strength of Rubber Board was taken after studying its functioning and is only to make the organisation more effective and focused on its goals and objectives. The reduction in strength is proposed to be carried out without affecting the wings of the Rubber Board concerned with extension activities and research and training. Further, there has not been any delay in verification and processing of applications made under RPIS scheme. Applications submitted by farmers involving incentive amount of ₹96.41 crore have been processed and forwarded to Government of Kerala by Regional Offices of Rubber Board and the remaining ones are under process.

Published on July 28, 2020
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