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MACHINIST - Nothing for exporters except sympathy EEPC Chairman, Rakesh Shah

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Nothing for exporters except sympathy EEPC Chairman, Rakesh Shah
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Saturday, 01 March 2008

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Kolkata: The ENGINEERING EXPORT PROMOTION COUNCIL (EEPC) Chief, Mr. Rakesh Shah, expressed his disappointment with the Budget proposals for the next fiscal 2008-09, observing that apart from sympathy, the proposals carried no major policy initiative to address the sharp slowing down of exports from 25.3% in 2006-07 to 7.7% in Rupee terms in the first 9 months of the current fiscal. Mr. Shah said that the exporters had pinned their hopes that this Budget would take certain fundamental policy initiatives to correct the imbalances in the economy that had led to the falling fortunes of the exporting community in the present year.

On the overall Budget numbers, EEPC Chairman, Mr. Rakesh Shah complimented the Finance Minister for attaining the revenue and fiscal target for the current fiscal even though they were understated on account of oil, food and fertilizer bonds issued by the Government. Similarly, Mr. Shah welcomed the abolition of import duty on steel melting scrap and aluminium scarp as well as the lowering of Cenvat to 14%. The EEPC Chairman further added that the exporting community was expecting that the Service Tax Refund benefits for 13 services would be converted into an Exemption Scheme as promised by the Government, but there has been no such move in the Budget. Also it was hoped that the service tax on foreign commission agents, which is the most important post-production service tax component on exports, would be included in the refund/exemption mechanism. Sadly, this too has not been accepted by the Finance Minister, Mr. Shah observed. Further, while the export duty on Chrome ore has been increased, no such duty has been put on iron ore, which has been the root cause for the sharp escalation of steel prices in the country. Mr. Shah noted that while the Finance Minister mentioned about the monopolistic situation in the steel and cement industry in the country, no policy pronouncement was made to bring in competitive conditions, especially in the steel industry, such as the need for imposition of an export duty on steel exports from the country to stabilize the domestic prices. Amongst other positive measures with regard to the industry, Mr. Shah commended the Finance Minister for stressing on the role of Technology Upgradation Fund Schemes (TUFS) as well as certain measures for supporting the MSME Sector with regard to Risk Capital Fund Scheme under SIDBI and the refinance facility for funding the MSME sector. The EEPC Chairman added that the attempt to develop a bond, currency and derivative market in the country with stress on developing a currency exchange seems to be a progressive move, though the fine print needs to be looked at to appreciate the full impact of this policy measure. While stressing that the social sector spending including the waiver of farm loans to the tune of Rs.60,000 crores would go a long way in uplifting the vulnerable sections of the society, the outcomes for such scheme needs to be looked into and it is hoped that some of the measures outlined by the Finance Minister for improving the “implementation factor” for the enhanced outlays will be successful in the days ahead.

Signing off, the EEPC Chief noted that the budget had missed an opportunity to redress some of the problems facing Indian industry and has completely bypassed the urgent requirements of the engineering exporters in the country.

 
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