India may axe 1.5m jobs

NEW DELHI - INDIA could lose up to 1.5 million jobs in the export sector in the six months to March, the commerce secretary said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.

With major markets for Indian goods such as the United States and Europe struggling, many importing companies have scaled back their orders.

'If these projections continue... it's quite likely that you can expect another five lakh (500,000) losses before March 31,' Mr G.K. Pillai told the NDTV news channel after announcing that one million jobs had gone since August.

Exports for January were down more than 20 per cent, continuing a trend of negative growth that began in October when exports tumbled for the first time in three years.

India could still export US$175 billion (S$264.8 billion) worth of goods in the present fiscal year, down from the previous government estimate of US$200 billion, Mr Pillai told NDTV.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations has said the job losses could be far worse, predicting the global economic slowdown would see at least 10 million Indians in the export sector become unemployed by March.

Mr Pillai warned that some exporters, especially in the worst-hit textile and jewellery industries, would not survive.

'Some element of closures will take place. By the end of this year there will be a tremendous consolidation,' he said.

India has unveiled a range of incentives for businesses in two economic stimulus packages since December but has so far rejected a large-scale bailout of any sector as has happened in the United States. -- AFP


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