Indian commerce secretary G K Pillai said that the textiles sector was likely to lose 500,000 jobs over the next five months because of the sharp slowdown in export demand over the past few weeks, the Indian Express reported Saturday.
"According to the estimates of the textile ministry, there will be job losses of about 500,000 in the next five months," Pillai said in an occasion on Friday, citing a textiles ministry estimate.
Commerce secretary's projection of job losses is the biggest number given out by the Indian government ever since economic crisis broke out, the report said.
The textile industry, the country's second largest employment- generating sector after agriculture, employs 35 million people with exports of over 22 billion U.S. dollars. Over 60 percent of India's textile exports find markets in United States, Europe and Japan - all three now in economic recession.
While the commerce ministry has launched a job-loss study of about 800 exporting firms across different industries, Pillai said, "possibly, the worst period may come by March-April, so you have not seen the worst of it."
Agreeing with the estimates of the textile ministry, Confederation of Indian Textile Industry (CITI) said the government should take immediate measures to protect the industry.
Chairman of Apparel Export Promotion Council Rakesh Vaid too said more job losses were expected.
"More job losses are expected as several factories will temporarily be shut down due to falling export orders from the United States and Europe," he said.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday assured the nation that the government would spare no effort to "neutralize to the maximum possible extent" the adverse impact of the global financial meltdown on the country's economy, so as to sustain a growth of about eight percent this fiscal.
(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2008)