Our Bureau

New Delhi, Jan. 23

THE Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, is meeting exporters to ascertain their ground-level grievances even as the country's exports performed well during the first three quarters of the current fiscal clocking a growth of 18.03 per cent in dollar terms.

Sources in the Government told

Business Line

that though the Commerce Minister, Mr Kamal Nath, had initiated the meeting the Commerce Ministry has not prepared any formal agenda.

The idea is to let the exporters air their viewsso that Dr Singh gets to know first-hand the problems plaguing the sector.

Some of the problems affecting the exporters include poor infrastructure, high cost of finance and the fear of losing some of the tax-exemptions and duty exemptions they are accustomed to.

Exporters also lament the levy of multiple taxes and their non-refund or delayed refund such as service tax, which directly detracts their competitiveness. The uncertainty over the new scheme replacing the Duty Entitlement Passbook (DEPB) scheme and the continuation of the extant DEPB scheme for another six months till the new scheme is announced has reduced the morale of exporters as the costing for any order is done six to eight months before shipment of exports.

Even as exporters have been pleading for a total cessation of reopening of past cases on profits earned from the sale of DEPB credits, the recent announcement by the Central Board of Direct Taxes staggering the demands over five-year period has not altogether relieved them of the problem.

With exports doing relatively better against all the odds in the external market, the least the exporters expect from the government is a phase free from policy-induced distortions or plans that might upset the exporters commercial calculations when they have factored in drawback or other export profits as part of their export proceeds.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 24, 2006)
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