Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Port Wings Editorial: EXIM sector deserves better deal in this budget


Exports and imports, shortly known as EXIM, are the two yardsticks, which could be taken into account while deciding on the financial condition of any economy.
For a country like India, which is surrounded by sea on three sides and chances for sea-borne cargo movement both locally as well as internationally remains high, EXIM sector never receives the advantage it ought to get in nation-building.
Even though the top honchos from the Exim sector persistently demanded the Government of India to give more importance to the sector time and again, it had never materialized in the last six decades of independence.
For countries in European Union, Exim sector plays a pivotal role in harnessing economic growth. According to the chieftains of those countries in Europe, the sector, which gives them an opportunity to develop their economies without disturbing the nature, has to be given more prominence, as they are the nodal points in disseminating any country’s economy.
However, India, which has abundant opportunities in developing the sector, still lacks in tapping the natural way of growth.
Meanwhile, after the BJP Government taken over the command in New Delhi some nine months ago, there are some serious deliberations on how to improve the EXIM sector to aid country’s economical growth.
Some ideas like improvement of coastal connectivity for cargo movement, extensive use of inland waterways for ferrying cargoes and a few on the same lines, trickled out in the public domain by the Ministry of Shipping.
While these are the last-mile connectivity opportunities, there are many other things, like ensuring financial support for the cargo movement, full utilization of maritime advantages and relaxing colonial rules that hinders growth in the sector, has to be tackled well in the 2015 General Budget.
Simplifying indirect taxation structure, especially excise duty (2 slab rates) and customs duty (3 slab rates) to facilitate GST implementation could augur well in the longer run.
Besides, Make in India initiative should be linked with Foreign Trade Policy in the manufacturing sector to boost the EXIM Sector, whose coronation is overdue.
The regular demand –granting of infrastructure status to shipping, shipyards and other such important segments may be taken this time.
Besides, another important demand like allowing cash surplus PSUs to invest in private sector shipyards to boost domestic ship building industry could also be a gamechanger for the sector. 
Hope the Finance Minister understand the importance of EXIM sector in this budget and show the right place it deserves in nation building.

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