The All India Skin and Hide Tanners and Merchants Association has stressed the need for mergers to step up the scale of operations in the country in order to remain competitive in the global market.

Addressing the 86th annual general body meeting of the association, president M Rafeeque Ahmed said exports for the year had suffered a 6.3% decline compared with last year and the US market was yet to show any significant recovery. The challenges from far eastern countries, particularly China, had eroded India’s market share of exports. Against this backdrop, the de-reservation policy announced by the government was on the right track, he observed.

He called upon industry to ponder over the need for managerial strength in various sectors of the industry in the future. Observing that efforts to link productivity with wage increase had not borne any fruit so far, he appealed to the industry to embark on the twin objectives of increases in wages and improvement in productivity.

On the taxation front, the Sales Tax structure had only added to the financial burden. However, the association was in touch with other small industry associations to take the matter up at the appropriate level. Rafeeque Ahmed also stressed the need to develop close linkages with export organisations to look for new export markets.

On pollution control, a charter had been evolved for the leather industry. Also, a national task force constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests for implementation of the charter on Corporate Responsibility for Environmental Protection (CREP) had found that the leather industry in Tamil Nadu had implemented most of the measures listed in the CREP.

The Ministry is also considering the scheme for substantial assistance under the National River Conservation Project (NRCP), he said. TDS continues to be the biggest challenge faced by the tanning industry.