India's Congress-led government announced on Friday a 15 billion dollars loan bailout for small farmers in a populist pre-election budget targeting the party's traditional poor rural supporters. Finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram, releasing the budget for the year starting April 1 as India's blistering economic growth has begun to slow, announced a 600 billion rupees ($15.05b) relief plan. Some 30 million indebted farmers' loans would be fully waived and another 10 million would receive aid, said Chidambaram, who presented the budget ahead of nine state elections slated this year followed by national polls in early 2009. He pledged to wrestle down the fiscal deficit and tame inflation. But the lack of any big corporate incentives along with the debt giveaway dismayed the stock market which tumbled nearly 1.4 per cent.
The jute industry has urged the ministry of textiles (MoT) to impose a ban on the imports of A.Twill and B.Twill jute bags from Bangladesh as part of its qualitative restriction. It has also requested the ministry for quantitative restrictions, whereby imports from Bangladesh will be limited giving a breather to the domestic jute industry. The country imported around 55,000 tonnes of jute products from Bangladesh, Nepal, China and Pakistan during 2006-07 jute season. The government recently made jute and jute goods imports duty free. According to the industry, qualitative and quantitative restrictions are required to be maintained as rules on these line have already been laid down in the Jute Mandatory Packaging Act (JPMA). In a letter to A K Singh, secretary, MoT, the jute industry has pointed out the events leading to the adverse effect faced by it because of the withdrawal of import duty on the crop and items. Indian Jute Mills Association ( IJMA) chairman, Sanjay Kajaria said, quantitative and qualitative restrictions need to be imposed to plug loopholes on imported jute bags by certain vested interested persons. Moreover, the restrictions would also ensure the stoppage of import of cheap and non-standard quality of jute bags which are not in conformity with Indian and international standards. The industry feels, unrestricted import of the raw crop and jute goods would be disastrous and therefore should be stopped immediately.