|Subject||Apec’S Apparel Mart Mirrors The Waning Fortunes Of Textile Exports|
Mannequins draped in finery but covered in transparent sheets, grimy cartons and unused and dust-swathed office furniture, are piled across the “state-of-the-art” Apparel International Mart (AIM), Gurgaon, once envisaged as the one-stop shop for reputed international apparel buyers.
The seven-floor mart comprises 250 showrooms, of which 94 are lying vacant and 81 are being used for running an institute or have been rented out for office space. Only 75 showrooms are occupied but these too remain locked due to negligible export promotion activity.
The Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC), which was tasked with operating and promoting apparel exports in the mart, has been running the Institute of Apparel Management (IAM) from the vacant showrooms.
The institute runs out of the seventh floor and a part of the sixth floor. It has been blacklisted by the Haryana Directorate of Technical Education as it does not have AICTE approval.
Despite several representations, both the AEPC and the government have not addressed the concerns of exporters and existing showroom holders, said Rajiv Kapoor, vice-president, Apparel House Exporters’ Association.
The mart was mooted in 1997 to raise apparel exports to $25 billion by 2010 under the National Textile Policy 2000. However, 17 years later, the exports of ready-made garments stood at $13.9 billion in 2013-14.
Trade experts say that with the focus of the government on re-energising exports and promoting manufacturing, it is time to reinvent the export promotion councils (EPCs), bridge between the government and exporters.
“EPCs were designed to hand-hold small exporters. However, instead of doing their jobs, they have become rent-seekers. EPCs in other countries help the exporters to the last detail, if need be,” said Biswajit Dhar, professor, JNU.
Earlier, a study was undertaken by the commerce ministry to gauge the efficacy of EPCs. It had recommended organisational restructuring “to ensure their democratic functioning and greater participation from members in their activities”, a government source said. Several EPCs are yet to put in place effective mechanisms, which adversely affects India’s export competitiveness, the source added.
Even as the government has undertaken steps to make it easier for doing business in the country, it would have to focus on institutions that cater to small and medium enterprises, to push manufacturing, Dhar added.
A showroom holder in the AIM, on the condition of anonymity, said despite the huge vacancy, the AEPC has not taken measures to sell the showrooms to exporters. Except for few events, not much is being done by the AEPC for promoting apparel exports, the showroom holder alleged.
When contacted, while the textiles ministry did not respond, AEPC chairman Virender Uppal said, “We are not doing anything for our benefit. The showrooms were lying vacant so the institute was opened. Now we have decided to involve exporters in the decision-making process.”
Source : indianexpress.com
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