The Southern Gujarat Chamber Of Commerce and Industry (SGCCI) has a strong base of over 8,200 direct members, more than 100 associations and indirect membership of over 65,000 from a wide spectrum of trade and industry. Hetal Mehta, President Elect, SGCCI, shares about the organisation’s plans in conversation with Hemangini Kanth Rajput of Elets News Network (ENN).
Tells us about SGCCI’s objectives.
Major industrial city has a Chamber of Commerce. It is an apex body which works for the betterment of trade and industry, advocacy of businessmen rights with the Government and liasioning of the industrialists with the Government.
Having been associated with the SGCCI for over two decades, what sort of challenges you came across?
Our role is to talk to the Government when policies are being formed, to give inputs of the industry people to the Government, etc. Due to the 2008 Global Economic Slowdown, our economy was falling. At that time, we played a crucial role by telling the Government that which sectors are going down and what kind of boost they require for their upliftment. In the current scenario, we helped industries for adopting GST. Textile industry was never in the tax domain.
We did a series of meetings with the Government putting forth the concerns and difficulties of the industry in accepting GST and vice-versa. As a result, the Government was able to come up with an amicable solution.
What social and business initiatives SGCCI have been undertaken recently?
Surat, being the textile hub, has seven lakh power looms. More than four crore metre cloth is produced here daily. Being a laborious industry, our aim was to popularise innovations in textile industry. In the last few years, embroidery machines were not gaining popularity. We did a special exhibition for such machines as a result of which in just three years, more than 1 lakh such machines have been installed in the city. The same happened with the water jack machines. We do almost 5-6 exhibitions every year. We try to bridge the gap.
What initiatives have been taken up to boost the startups?
The success ratio of startups is quite low. There is a dire need for a robust framework for startups. Major startups are in IT industry. Our focus should be on manufacturing and service industry instead. We did a lot of programmes for the startups. Once such project comes up, we should provide them with incubation. All the facilities needed should be provided to them for sustainable growth. We have a separate committee working on the startups projects. For example, for polishing the acrylic, a flame is used which makes the whole thing black. We introduced hydrogen flame for startups working in this space.
It took 8-9 months to complete this project but now the final product is out in the market. The start-up, which is doing this acrylic polishing work, is a success due to this initiative. Textile garment trading in the world amounts to around $3 trillion yearly, while our economy is around $2.5 trillion USD. So there is a huge scope of growth for Surat and India in Textile garment industries. We have to open our mind and think beyond.
What initiatives can be taken up by the Government of India for Ease of Doing Business?
The Government needs to first understand the local, national and international factors. They need to come to the field to know the problems of a common man. There should be no policy paralysis.
How is the industry performing now?
All the industries are doing well. But sky is the limit. Growth is there, but at what percentage? For example, of the 10 diamonds in the world, 9 are produced in Surat. Chemical industry is doing good in Surat. India needs to be the world leader now. Take the example of China. We need to find the answer as to how Chinese products are cheaper than our indigenous products. Electricity rate in India is Rs 7 per unit while in China it is Rs 7.8. Raw material rate in China is around the same as in India. So how come their products are cheaper than ours? The answer is that their technology and efficiency is much higher than us. We need to apply our mind in these two areas. By this, we will be able to beat not only China, but any country in the world.