New Delhi: Finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday unveiled a host of proposals, including setting up of more mega-clusters, to boost the textile sector.

“I propose to set up a Trade Facilitation Centre and a Crafts Museum with an outlay of Rs50 crore to develop and promote handloom products and carry forward the rich tradition of handlooms of Varanasi, where I also intend to support a textile mega-cluster," Jaitley said in his maiden budget speech.

“I also propose to set up six more textile mega-clusters at Bareilly, Lucknow, Surat, Kuttch, Bhagalpur, Mysore and one in Tamil Nadu. I am allocating a sum of Rs200 crore for this purpose," Jaitley said in his budget speech.

Terming the budget as “forward looking", textiles minister Santosh Gangwar on Thursday said it recognises the core strengths of the textile sector and aims to promote them with a strong human emphasis.

“The budget recognises the aspirations of a new India which is looking towards the government for decisively moving towards high growth, low inflation and more jobs. I welcome the proposals for the textile sector which include setting-up of mega textile clusters at Varanasi, Bareilly, Lucknow, Surat, Kuttch, Bhagalpur, Mysore and one in Tamil Nadu with a sum of Rs200 crore," Gangwar said.

Jaitley also proposed to set up a Hastkala Academy for the preservation, revival, and documentation of the handloom/handicraft sector in public-private-partnership (PPP) mode in Delhi.

He further unveiled a proposal to start a Pashmina Promotion Programme and a programme for the development of other crafts of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), setting aside a sum of Rs50 crore for the purpose.

To encourage exports of readymade garments, the finance minister proposed to increase the duty free entitlement for import of trimmings, embellishments and other specified items from 3% to 5% of the value of their exports. Apart from it, faster clearance of import and export cargo will also be implemented to reduce transaction costs and improves business competitiveness.

The textile industry, which plays a pivotal role in the economic life of India, also majorly contributes to industrial output, employment generation and the export earnings of the country.

It contributes 14% to the industrial production, 4% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and 11% to the country’s export earnings. The textile sector is the second largest provider of employment after agriculture. PTI