Marble industry sheds 30% of workforce
Marble is an industry that is mostly concentrated in Rajasthan and has thrived on cash transactions, bare minimum taxes, and the construction boom. But in the last couple of years, everything that can go wrong, has gone wrong with this industry, resulting in crippling sales, big layoffs and shrinking processing activity. The deep distress in the marble industry does not attract enough attention given its unorganized nature and lack of unified voice. But its economic import cannot be undermined.
As per the state department of mines and geology report, employment in the stone sector has plunged by 30% in 2016-17 compared to previous year, and production has plunged by over 12%. The decline is writ large on other metrics of the industry (see graphics).
The business community engaged in the sector said that stone was one of the very few industries that suffered the worst impact of demonetization, GST and RERA. Cash used to be the preferred mode of transaction for the industry, and the component was even bigger compared to real estate deals.
But after demonetization, much of the demand has disappeared, he added. Before it could absorb the shock, the GST was introduced which put the industry in the 28% tax bracket.
While the department of mines and geology conservatively estimates the stone sector in Rajasthan at around Rs 4000 crore, industry bodies peg it close to Rs 10,000 crore. Accordingly, the employment will be also much higher compared to the department’s data.