Smriti Irani being gifted a statue of Swami Vivekananda made of jute by industrialist Sanjay Kumar Jain (right) and Vishal Jhajharia (left) at the MCCI organised session on Thursday.
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Kolkata: Union textiles minister Smriti Irani has conceded that lower tax rate on imports of readymade garments is affecting the domestic textile industry in India and she has assured that she will raise the matter with the Union finance ministry soon.

The assurance came during a session organised by the Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce & Industry in Kolkata today during which Irani was bombarded with concerns from the textile industrialists in Bengal over issues relating to GST rate, GST input credit, and import duty on textile products in India.

Out of the 10-11 questions that the industrialists and importers asked Irani during the open session at a hotel in the city, seven were specifically related to GST on garments. At one point, Iran was so overwhelmed by the concerns flagged that she said: “I’m delighted to find that you think I can solve all the problems. But please realise that taxation is not in my purview.”

“I agree that lower import duty is affecting the domestic textile industry. I will take your concerns to the finance minister. The finance ministry will hear both the garment exporters and importers before taking a call on this,” Irani said.

It may be noted that for some time now, the domestic textiles industry has been demanding to the levy of higher import duty on readymade garments. This is because ever since the introduction of GST, the imports of readymade garments from Bangladesh and China have grown by over 50 per cent as the effective import duty on imports is nearly equal to the GST applicable on domestically produced garments.

The textiles minister told the packed house that the Union commerce ministry is working onto branding Indian textiles in the international market by assigning grades to cotton and other types of garments produced in India.

Irani, who came to the city today on a few hours visit, said that India has the potentials to become the largest jute exporters in the world provided the farmers grow quality jute that can be turned into fine fabric.

“We are the largest jute growing country in the world but Bangladesh has taken over us as regards the exports. This is because the jute produced by them is of higher quality. In conjunction with the Union agriculture ministry, we are trying to facilitate certified jute seeds to the farmers so that the jute grown in the country is of uniform in quality and can compete with other countries.”