PM's intervention sought for postponement of cotton export

Coimbatore: The Tirupur Exporters' Association (TEA) today requested prime minister Manmohan Singh to immediately intervene and postpone cotton exports to 15th January and ban cotton yarn exports, to ensure its availability in the domestic market, reports PTI.

In a letter to Mr Singh, TEA president, A Sakthivel said the knitwear export sector was facing an alarming situation, which would even lead to the closure of export units after Diwali, as no one is able to cope with the ever increasing price pressure of cotton yarn, the main raw material.

The cotton price in the domestic market was skyrocketing on a daily basis because of the government permission granted for export of 55 lakh cotton bales from November. It was a fact that the real beneficiaries were traders and MNCs and not the cotton farmer nor the user industry, he claimed.

Requesting the prime minister to allow cotton export only after 15th January, that too in a calibrated manner, TEA also urged him to bring cotton under the Essential Commodities Act.

Mr Sakthivel also said cotton procurement should be done on Actual User Condition basis to avoid speculation and hoarding.

Copies of the letter were sent to union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, textile minister Dayanidhi Maran, commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and his deputy Jyotiraditya Scindia, Tamil Nadu chief minister M Karunanidhi and deputy chief minister M K Stalin.


Bharti Wal-Mart to rope in 35,000 farmers by 2015

New Delhi: Looking to scale up sourcing of agricultural products from India, the world's largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc today said its joint venture (JV) with the Bharti Group here will rope in 35,000 farmers by 2015 to its supply chain, reports PTI.

"We are already making a contribution to India's agricultural sector by working with a large number of farmers in Punjab. I am pleased to announce that Bharti Wal-Mart would be directly sourcing from 35,000 small and medium farmers by 2015," Wal-Mart Stores Inc president and CEO Mike T Duke said here at a function organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci).

At present, the 50:50 cash and carry joint venture, Bharti Wal-Mart, works with 550 farmers in the country.
Elaborating on how the company aims to help the farmers, Mr Duke said: "We will help them by providing skills and technology for crop management...By doing all these we hope that the farmers will see at least a 20% increase in their income levels."
He said the company will also be training the farmers on how to utilise usage of water and fertilisers optimally.
"This will benefit one million farmer and farm workers," Mr Duke added.
Commenting on the need for skill upgradation in the retail sector, Mr Duke said the JV will add a third skills training centre in Bangalore in a couple of months.
Bharti Enterprises vice chairman and managing director Rajan Bharti Mittal said, after the Bangalore centre, another skill centre would be set up at Mohali but did not give a timeline for it.
The Bharti Wal-Mart association currently has two training centres located in Amritsar and Delhi in partnership with the respective state governments.
"The target is to train 40,000 students in the next five years and place at least 15,000 students in the next five years," Mr Duke said.
Already 3,400 students have already been certified and 1,100 people have been place in jobs, he added.
Commenting on the need for further opening up of India's retail sector to FDI, Mr Duke said: "We want to open more and more stores here and contribute in the training and we do stand ready to contribute much more than what we are doing right now if FDI is opened in retail."
He said Wal-Mart has been encouraged by the government's positive approach, specially the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) paper that came out in June this year.
An inter-ministerial committee is currently evaluating the comments of stakeholders on the paper on opening up the politically-sensitive multi-brand retail sector to foreign direct investment (FDI).


No regulator for MFIs as of now, they should develop code: FM

New Delhi: The government today said it is not mulling a regulator for microfinance institutions (MFIs), but wanted them to evolve a code for themselves, even as these lenders draw criticism over their exorbitant interest rates and coercive recovery methods, reports PTI.

At the Economic Editors' Conference here, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said he has suggested to the Andhra Pradesh government to address some stringent provisions in its recently promulgated ordinance to rein in MFIs.

"I am not currently thinking of appointing any regulator right now... As we expect there should be a code evolved by the institutions themselves where rates of interest are not abnormally high and there should not be a coercive mechanism to recover the money," Mr Mukherjee said.

There have been speculations that the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) could be appointed as regulator for MFIs, as they do not come under separate regulation as of now.

Industry chamber Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) has asked the government to set up an effective regulating body and put a cap on the interest rates charged by MFIs.

"The confidence of the people in microfinance model of development has shaken by the practices of unscrupulous microfinance institutions functioning in the rural areas of the country," Assocham said.

The Andhra Pradesh government recently promulgated an ordinance to check MFIs, after a number of suicides were reported in the state, allegedly due to strong-arm tactics of MFIs for recovery of loans.

The ordinance makes it mandatory for all MFIs in Andhra Pradesh to register with the district registering authority, the project director (PD) of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) for rural areas and PD of MEMPA for urban areas.

Now, MFIs will have to specify the area and system of their operations, the rate of interest and recovery mechanism while registering with the registering authority.

The registering authority may at any time either suo moto or upon receipt of complaints by Self-Help Groups (SHGs) or the general public can cancel the registration of the MFI after assigning sufficient reasons.

The finance minister said, "In respect of the ordinance which the Andhra Pradesh government has issued...I had a talk with the chief minister over the phone and suggested certain corrections in the see that the harsh provisions are taken care of."

He said MFIs should ensure that the borrower is in a position to pay back the money and as such lending should be mainly directed towards the productive borrowing not so much towards consumption.

The RBI has also constituted a sub-committee to look into the functioning of MFIs.


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