INDUSTRIAL SCENE
Industrial growth rate rises to 6.2% in April-December

Buoyancy in the manufacturing sector pushed up the Industrial growth rate to 6.2 per cent in the first three quarters (April-December 1999) of the current fiscal as compared to 3.7 per cent in the corresponding period last year. 

As per the quick estimates index of industrial production (IIP) released in New Delhi on February 11, by the Central Statistical Organisation, industry grew by 5.2 per cent in December 1999 as against 4.3 per cent in the corresponding month last year. 

6 core sectors grow 8.2% in April-November

Accounting for more than one-fourth of the total weight of index of industrial production (IIP), six crore sectors including power, steel and cement, recorded 8.2 per cent growth during April-November, 1999, up from 2.6 per cent in the corresponding period last year reflecting a step up in industrial activity. 

The up turn was led by petroleum refinery products posting a growth rate of 20.0 per cent during April-November followed by cement growing at 16.9 per cent, steel 11.4 per cent, power 7.6 per cent and crude petroleum at 0.4 per cent. The coal sector's performance continued to be sluggish during the period posting a negative growth rate of 1.5 per cent, official figures revealed. 

Oil import bill exceeds estimate

Union Minister for petroleum and natural gas Shri Ram Naik hinted at a status quo on prices of petroleum products for the moment, while speaking informally to newspersons after inaugurating the `Oil Conservation Fortnight' in New Delhi on January 17. He also divulged that the oil import bill had overshot earlier estimates, to touch Rs.60,000 crore ($ 13.78 billion) against the earlier estimate for the bill of Rs.54,000 crore ($ 12.40 billion) and actual import of Rs.24,000 crore ($ 5.51 billion) in 1998-99. The inflated import bill for crude oil and petroleum products in 1999-2000 was spurred by both the unprecedented increase in crude oil prices and the doubling of crude imports to 60 million tonne. The crude requirements of the country shot up by roughly 50 per cent after 42 million tonne of new petroleum refining capacity went on stream last year. 

Petroleum products to cost more in Delhi

Motor spirit or petrol will cost Rs.2 a litre more in the national capital region effective from January 15. The Uniform Sales Tax (UST) package that becomes effective from midnight of January 15, makes petrol dearer by 8.33 per cent, diesel by a little less than one per cent, and cooking gas cylinders by a little more than four per cent. 

Setting up of garment parks

After technology parks, the government now plans to set up garments park in various states to boost the exports of textiles and garments, said textiles minister Shri Kashiram Rana. "The scope of the textiles upgradation fund scheme (TUFS) launched on April 1, 1999, will thus be extended to these garment parks", Shri Rana said on December 18 while inaugurating the 55th All India Textiles Conference. 

Leather sector to focus on technology upgradation

The leather industry in India is poised for a major technological leap. The preparations, planning and thinking since 1995, have arrived at a point of action with the official announcement of the tannery modernisation fund. Modernisation is the first step of the Journey to the Leather Vision 2010, launched in January 1999. 

It is in this context that the Leather Research Industry Get-together (LERIG) 2000, in the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI) on January 27 has chosen `Modernisation outlook for Development and Empowerment of Leather Sec tor' (MODEL) as the key theme, Shri T. Ramasami, Director of CLRI said in Chennai on January 25. 

Number of closed spinning mills rises to 226

With eight more spinning mills rolling down their shutters in September last, the total number of closed spinning mills has risen to 226. 

Also 105 composite mills remain closed at present. Thus the total number of textile mills lying idle at present has reached a new peak of 331. 

Cotton yarn exports hit record high at 535 million kg.

Cotton yarn exports for calendar year 1999 have touched a record 534.83 million kg, valued at Rs.6,439.62 crore. 

It may be noted that, during calendar year 1998, total cotton yarn exports stood at 473.54 million kg, valued at Rs.5,874.93 crore. 

Upswing in handicraft exports

The annual turnover from the handicrafts sector in the country has recorded a steady increase during the past years and the export alone up to September during the current financial year brought Rs.2,858.78 crore against Rs.2,461.70 crore during the same period last year. 

With an average Rs.35,000 crore worth handicrafts items being produced annually by more than 65 lakh artisans, the exports during 1998-99 earned Rs.7,092.34 crore registering a 15 per cent growth over the previous year. 

Indian companies should set up SMEs in Africa: UNIDO

Dr. Yo Maruno, Managing Director of the Investment Promotion and Institutional Capacity Building Division, UNIDO, called on the Indian corporates to focus more on Africa particularly in setting up small and medium enterprises. 

While addressing a meeting organised on 7th December, 1999 under the aegis of Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), Dr. Maruno said that agro food process ing, and technology transfer are the key sectors where the Indian initiatives are mostly welcomed. The Indian training expertise and consultancy also could be relevant in the present African context, he added. 

Nigeria invites Indian investment in oil, gas and minerals

Nigerian President Mr. Olusegan Obasanjo on January 27, invited Indian Investment in his country, especialy in manufacturing, oil and gas, solid minerals and agro-industry. 

Nigeria was making concerted efforts to put in place an enabling environment for all investors, including foreign, and would like to see India becoming leading commercial and economic partner in Africa, with an investment profile running into tens of billion of dollars, said Mr. Obasanjo at a meeting organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry. 

Organised sector throws up fewer jobs

Data on employment in public and private sectors shows that the number of people employed in the organised public and private sectors amounted to 28.25 million as on end March 1997. 

Over 1990-91 to 1996-97 employment in the public sector increased 0.5 million to 19.56 million, while 0.91 million jobs were created in the private sector over the same period. Total job creation in the organised sector in the post-liberalisation period was, therefore, 1.41 million. 

Now compare the seven-year period prior to economic liberalisation. 

During 1983-84 to 1989-90, 1.55 million jobs were created in the public sector, while 0.22 million additional people found jobs in the private sector. Total job creation in the organised sector was, therefore 1.77 million over the period. 

Clearly, fewer jobs have been created over the seven year period after liberalisation, in comparison with the preceding seven-year period. One reason is the lower intake of the public sector in keeping with the new economic policy, and the effect of this has been partially offset by the growth in jobs in the private sector. But even then, the overall increase in employment has been lower.