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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Govt staff to shed grey, tired look for chic

There is a silent transformation in government offices these days. The faded and often wrinkled work uniforms worn by some government

employees are now being replaced by classier corporate workwear, thanks to new cloth sourcing norms by the government’s purchase departments.

The Central Vigilance Commission office, a central regulatory authority, which decides on the rules and regulations for the government’s tendering process, has asked all public sector units, armed forces and state-governed bodies to insist on “composite mills” in their tenders for procuring any kind of textiles. Simply put, only composite mills — a textile facility where weaving, spinning and processing is integrated and done under a single roof — can bid for textile-related tenders.

The advantage of such mills is that since the three crucial stages of making textiles happens under single roof, quality is consistent even in large-scale production. Whereas, in the case of power looms the production capacities are not as big as composite ones, due to which one has to often compromise on colour or quality. Additionally, with composite mills, the customer can be supplied with cloth as per his specifications while a powerloom-made cloth cannot by uniform in its specifications. Till now, unorganised players or commission agents used to walk away with such tenders after quoting the lowest price. The cheap quotations ensured that these agents delivered inferior quality cloth often procured from individual powerlooms.

Apart from the general public and employees who will welcome the sartorial change, organised textile players are also cheering, especially as these firms had been hit by the slowdown in textiles. The CVC diktat has provided a good business opportunity for such textile mills as the size of a typical government textile tender is estimated to be over Rs 2,000 crore a year.

Nitin S Kasliwal, CEO and MD of S Kumars Nationwide said: “This move will help in checking the activities of small and medium level players who are awarded tenders due to the cost advantage. However, such players are unable to deliver on time and compromise on quality as they depend on smaller manufacturers to fulfil the order.”

SKNL is supplier to ONGC, Air India, BPCL and Indian Army. “State-owned mills will benefit since now they will have better quality textiles, but they should be more specific while floating tenders,” says RK Dalmiya, president of the Mumbai-based Century Textiles. “Often tenders are not clear about particular needs which confuse participants. This will make the process more transparent as the tender also insists on prior experience and ISO certifications,” he added.

Raghunath MB, a director with Mafatlal Fabrics says the step will help both textile mills and the government. “As all processes are done in a single location, it ensures consistent quality which is not possible otherwise. Also, such a large order scale for organised players has come at the right time.”

The Mafatlal group supplies cloth to state-owned firms such as Hindustan Aeronautics, ONGC, BPCL and Airports Authority of India.