Centre to introduce Spl scheme for four sectors including plantation

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Bangalore, Oct 30 (UNI) A special scheme to rescue four labour intensive sectors-Textiles, Leather, Handicrafts and Plantation is likely to be introduced soon to maintain competitiveness following rupee appreciation, Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh announced today.

Speaking to newsmen here, after inaugurating the 49th Annual Conference of the Karnataka Planters Association here, he said the main criteria for selecting the sectors being the impact of appreciation of rupee, labour intensiveness and minimum import content.

Several sectors were already brought under a scheme following surge in forex reserves, he pointed out stressing such a special scheme was the need of the hour for these four sectors.

Replying to queries, he said he had already discussed the issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister P Chidambaram and the response was very positive as the both of them were sensitive to any sector which was labour oriented.

Mr Ramesh also expressed concern over the shortage of labourers in the plantation sector and said the Coffee Board had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur to develop machinery to cater to small and medium plantation growers. The sector was facing severe shortage of labourers due to various factors such as luring of high labour in other areas, he pointed out.

Earlier, addressing the KPA members, he said the coffee sector would get Rs 750 crore in the 11th Plan to be finally cleared by the Finance Commission at a meeting on November 8. In the 10th plan spreading 2002-07, the allocation to the sector was Rs 300 crore.

The increase in the 11th plan covering 2007-12 showed the concern of the centre in safeguarding the sector, he added saying that the funds would be utilised in a more effective way during the plan period.

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