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Rubber statistics revision not linked to import
Kottayam, 24 April 2015
This is in response to the press reports regarding the revision of statistics on rubber.
‘Samyuktha Karshaka Samithi’ reportedly alleges that the revision in the domestic production figures of rubber is part of the Rubber Board’s move to justify the imports by product manufacturers. Actually, there has not been any quantitative restriction on import of rubber since April 2001. Any importer can import rubber from any country on payment of the requisite customs duty. Therefore, import is likely to occur if the international price of the commodity goes down beyond a level compared to the domestic price. This is what has been happening at present. Unlike India, the major marketable form of rubber in other producing countries is block rubber, which is almost always priced much below sheet rubber. Tyre companies, the major consumers of rubber, can consume block rubber to an extent of 70 per cent of their total rubber consumption. But block rubber production in India cannot cater to even one fourth of this requirement. According to the returns submitted by the block rubber processing factories themselves, the total production of block rubber in 2013-14 was only 1,06,000 tonnes. But what could be used by the tyre companies was 4,60,000 tonnes. In this context, large scale import of block rubber was resorted to. The total consumption of block rubber during 2013-14 was 3,22,250 tonnes, out of which 2,42,000 tonnes was met by imports only. The facts being these, making any revision in the production figures of latex or sheets will not in any way affect or justify the imports.
It is a fact that discussions are on for some revisions in the production statistics, but they are because of quite different reasons. The Statistics & Market Development Committee of the Rubber Board which met in March 2010, recommended a downward revision in the stock figures of NR in the country. This committee has representation from all segments in the NR industry value-chain including small growers, large growers, traders and consumers in addition to Rubber Board officials. A similar downward revision in stock was also made in June 2011. But these revisions were done at that time without making corresponding downward revisions in production, and so resulted in mismatch in the balancing formula connecting production, consumption, import and export. Over the years this gap created a need for fixing. These points came up for discussion in the committee constituted for drafting National Rubber Policy, which was held on 26 September 2014 and was chaired by the Additional Secretary (Commerce). The meeting constituted a 16-member technical sub-committee for fixing the mismatch. This sub-committee, represented by all the stakeholders of the rubber sector, appointed an expert panel to study the statistics in detail. This panel, in turn, analysed the time series data for the last 20-30 years and came out with recommendations for a revision in the figures. This recommendation has now been circulated among the members of the technical sub-committee, but no final decision has been made on this.