Protest is brewing among the business and political fraternity in Kochi over the reported move to shift the city office of Cashew Export Promotion Council of India (CEPCI) to Kollam.
Parliament members from Ernakulam and various chambers of commerce and industry have sought the intervention of the Union Commerce Ministry in this regard.
According to CEPCI unions, the Administration Committee of the Council has unilaterally decided to shut down its Kochi office from June 30 without keeping the promise to consult the unions. There was a similar move to shut down Kochi office in 2007 which was thwarted following the political and trade body interventions at that time.
It is pointed out that the Kochi office is functioning in its own building on 30 cents for more than 50 years. Since the cashew industry is mainly an export-oriented industry, the CEPC office at Kochi is vital for promotion of cashew exports.
K.N. Marzook, Chairman of Kerala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has urged the Union Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to look into the matter. He pointed out that all other commodity boards such as Spices Board, Coconut Development Board, Coir Board, MPEDA have their head offices in Kochi.
Hence retaining the regional office of CEPC in Kochi will help it work more effectively in liaison with all these organisations, he said and added that infrastructure facilities available in Kochi are better than in any other part of the State.
CEPC employees pointed out that the proposed move for shifting the office is to occupy the building in Kollam which is meant exclusively for laboratory and research centre. The fund allotted by the Ministry to construct Cashew Bhavan at Kollam is only for accommodating CEPC laboratory.
They also submitted a memorandum to the Union Commerce Minister requesting him to retain the Kochi office as CEPC regional office in public interest.
The present move to shift the office to Kollam is against the earlier government order of December 26, 2007, directing CEPC to convene a meeting with employees unions to resolve the matter. The government order also directed that the decision of shifting the office may not be implemented till such time, the employees point out.
As 60 per cent of the cashew exports are taking place through Kochi ‘port, the city can act as a liaison point for CEPC members from all over the country, the unions said.
Source: Business Line