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Government says no extension on toy quality control order despite pleas from industry

Government says no extension on toy quality control order despite pleas from industry

Government says no extension on toy quality control order despite pleas from industry
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By Shilpa Ranipeta  Mar 3, 2021 7:16:47 PM IST (Updated)

Union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said the toy quality control order is here to stay and that there will not be an extension.

In a setback to the demands and requests of toymakers seeking an extension on the new quality control norms, union commerce and industry minister Piyush Goyal said the toy quality control order is here to stay and that there will not be an extension.

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The minister was speaking at The India Toy Fair that was held virtually over the weekend.
The new quality control norms have come at a time when toymakers are reeling from a financial crunch and the impact the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have had on their business.
When the government said the Quality Control Order (QCO) would come into effect from January 1, 2021, the All India Toys Federation (AITF) said toymakers require 18-24 months to upgrade to the new BIS regulations taking into account the process of applying for a licence and setting up testing infrastructure.
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"The QCO (Quality Control Order) requires manufacturers to set up testing facilities (equipment, personnel and technology included) and allow factory inspections from BIS inspectors, before they grant you a licence. The manufacturers do not have the resources to set up this infrastructure immediately. Even if they do, the current travel restrictions will not allow these inspectors to quickly visit these production sites and grade them accordingly," the toy federation said.
Two months after the toy quality control order came into effect, toy manufacturers such as IKEA, Hasbro and several other small toymakers have also been asking the government to revisit the QCO either in the form of concessions, or an extension of its implementation.
Swedish furniture maker IKEA stopped selling its toy range in India from January 1, 2021 as its suppliers do not have the BIS marking yet. However, the company is in compliance with the BIS standards. It said its suppliers have applied for a licence, but haven't received one due to the pandemic situation.
"By default IKEA Children articles follow EN-71 1/2/3 conformity to CE & ISO 8124. Further these are tested again for IS 9873/15644 ( which forms a subset of the EN (European) standards & harmonized with ISO 8124), both prior & during custom clearance for Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) conformity," IKEA said.
IKEA had appealed to the government for an extension on the QCO.
"Our suppliers have applied for the certification and in absence of BIS’ capabilities to certify our suppliers during COVID times, many retailers have been affected and the good quality and safe toys we are selling are not reaching the children, which is the need of the hour. So we would like to kindly ask also the government beyond all the fantastic initiatives to extend the toy quality control order and allow sale of existing stock because our toys have full compliance and they should be allowed for sale," Peter Betzel said in a CEO panel with Goyal during the Toy Fair.
With the QCO being applicable to importers and foreign manufacturers as well, Sanjiv Khullar, managing director, regional sourcing, India & South East Asia of global toymaker Hasbro Far East said in the CEO panel that the order is also impacting the export market.
The maker of Play-Doh and Monopoly has recommended that the government look at ease of doing business in India and make these recent regulations easier to implement to avoid a disruption in access of quality toys.
"The components being imported for the exports manufacturing are also being covered by the QCO at the point of import so this is a hurdle which needs to be resolved as we need to respond quickly to the requirements of the global market," Sanjiv said during the Toy Fair.
Currently, nearly 50 percent of the toys sold by Hasbro in India are made in India and the company is looking to scale this up to 80 percent. "Hasbro sees a great potential for India to become a major manufacturing hub for toy exports," Sanjiv added.
However, Goyal asked toymakers to instead focus on improving the quality of their toys and that of their component suppliers.
"The quality control orders are here to stay. We extended it for some time because of COVID, but we are convinced that India as a manufacturer of products will have to provide quality products...so I would urge friends who are looking at concessions on quality control to focus on improving quality of your own, and of your component suppliers and meet these standards," Goyal told the CEO panel during The India Toy Fair.
The Toy Quality Control order, which came into effect from January 1, 2021, requires all toys and materials designed or intended for use in play by children below 14 years of age to be certified by the Bureau of Indian standards (BIS) and therefore requires all toy manufacturers to comply with BIS to receive the certification. The new QCO also requires all toymakers to set up quality control labs to test their toys, and then have them inspected by BIS officials.
According to AITF, the existing process of applying for a licence and getting BIS certification is a time consuming one as the time-frame required is 120 days for domestic players, and up to 180 days for a foreign manufacturer or importer.
However, Goyal has said the government will soon announce significantly lower charges for quality control testing to make it more affordable for the industry, especially for women entrepreneurs, startups and MSMEs.
Though not offering an extension on quality norms, Goyal at the Toy Fair said the government is willing to extended support to the industry for ease of doing business and has also offered setting up of testing laboratories by BIS.
Goyal added that the Centre is working with state governments to provide special incentive packages to companies that set up factories in the proposed toy clusters.
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