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Photo: HT
Photo: HT

Govt denies extension in enforcement of BIS licence order for toys

Toy manufacturers have been complaining about the delays in securing the certification from BIS amid covid-19 disruption

NEW DELHI : India’s toy industry is in a bind with the government rejecting additional time sought by manufacturers, importers, and retailers for the enforcement of compulsory certification of the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for toys, said three people aware of the development.

The Toys (Quality Control) Order, which came into effect on 1 September mandated that all toys and materials designed or intended for use in play by children below 14 years of age shall be certified by BIS. This is necessary to do business in the domestic market dominated by Chinese imports, given that the absence of such certification entails criminal liability, including imprisonment and substantial fines.

Toy manufacturers, the majority of whom are micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), have been complaining about the delays in securing certification from BIS against the backdrop of the covid-19 disruption.

The February order was aimed at maintaining quality standards for toys to be used in the Indian market that is estimated at $38.1 billion by Statista, a German markets data portal.

The denial of extension follows fresh tensions with China, with 20 Indian soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers dead in a mid-June border clash in Ladakh.

The process of complying with the order will significantly hamper the country’s toy trade, according to All India Toys Federation (AITF), an industry body. “Effectively, this is more of a process change. Whenever a process is changed worldwide, there is a period given to complete the process because it is a transition. Earlier, it was given to us for six months, but there was a coronavirus outbreak. The whole thing, the quality control order process, was released on 21 August. Marking fees were given on 29 August, and 1 September, everything is closed. If this is what the thing is, then how do we do it?" said Rehan Dorajiwala, AITF spokesperson.

The federation represents more than 59 toy associations across India, including toy manufacturers, wholesalers and importers. The lobby group is apprehensive that toy MSMEs, facing a financial crunch, would not be able to adhere to these standards right away.

“The Indian toy industry is struggling with a large-scale slump in demand and issues stemming from economic uncertainties. The covid-19 pandemic caused a shortage in the supply of toys to the Indian market. We hope that the government gives us some more time to gain a certification from BIS," said Abdullah Sharif, vice president, AITF.

Queries emailed to BIS officials remained unanswered til press time. On Tuesday, a commerce ministry spokesperson said that the concerns of the toy industry are being examined. “Representations have come and it is under consideration and a decision is yet to be taken on this issue," the spokesperson said.

utpal.b@livemint.com

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