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Topic Summary

Posted by dwarakesh
 - Feb 02, 2009, 08:44 PM
The commerce ministry, which is the nodal government agency for foreign trade, has started monitoring job losses in export-oriented industries.

The latest survey of 402 companies done by the ministry has revealed that about 109,000 workers were laid off from export dependent sectors in the current fiscal up to January 15. In addition, these firms have lost Rs 6,272 crore worth of export orders in the same time frame.

Officials believe that going by these numbers, the number of job losses in all the export-oriented industries is likely to be about 800,000 to 1 million in the survey period.

At present, India does not have a monthly or quarterly unemployment data. Employment surveys are undertaken once in five years by the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO), which come with a lag of more than a year.

The effort by the ministry to collect data on regular intervals is an attempt to gauge the extent of job losses directly from the companies, instead of relying on claims made by industry lobby groups.

An earlier survey of 121 firms revealed that these companies shed 65,000 jobs in the three-month period ended October 2008. In addition, these firms have lost export orders worth Rs 1,800 crore.

From the latest list of 402 units, chemical and diamond industries seem to have been the worst affected.

While the chemical industry seems to have laid off the maximum number of workers, a government official, who reviewed the survey results, said, "The diamond industry seems to be the most hard hit. The data from the diamond industry has not been captured well in the survey as there are thousands of small units."

Sources said the ministry is carrying out periodic surveys of export-oriented industries to assess the impact of the economic slowdown. "Field officers of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade have been asked to keep a tab on the companies in their respective areas," the official said.

Updates are taken every week through a software developed specially for this purpose. The data collected are shared with other departments like revenue and labour.

Industry lobby groups have claimed huge number of job losses. For example, the textile industry claimed that more than 700,000 jobs were lost in 2008.

In October and November, exports from the country dipped 12.1 and 9.9 per cent, respectively, as demand from key markets including the US and the EU waned in the backdrop of the economic crisis.

Initial estimates by the ministry show that overseas sale of Indian goods is likely to dip again in December 2008, data for which will be released on Monday. "But this time, the rate of dip in exports will be lower than the previous two months," the official said.

The ministry is likely to take a call on revising the export target of $200 billion for the year 2008-09, once the December data are released. "Most likely, the target will be set in the range of $170-175 billion," the official said.

Source: Businessstandard
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