Budget 2016: ‘Emphasis on better port connectivity to help foreign trade’

EEPC appreciated the government’s move to implement ‘Customs Single Window Project’ at major ports and airports

By Sai Nikesh D

Overwhelmed by performance of major Indian ports in 2015, the Government of India has decided to enhance port infrastructure in the current Budget.

This was stated by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday during the release of the Budget 2016-17.

“In 2015, India’s major ports have handled the highest ever quality of cargo. We have also added the highest ever capacity in major ports. We have started a series of measures for modernising the ports and increasing their efficiency,” Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said releasing the Budget 2016-17.

Citing the government’s plans for improving port infrastructure, the Finance Minister informed that the ‘Sagarmala project’ has already been rolled out and announced plans to develop new greenfield ports in the eastern and western coasts of the country.

“The work on National Waterways is also being expedited. Rs.800 crore has been provided for these initiatives,” the Minister said.

Welcoming the Budget as the one that came in when Indian exporters are facing headwinds at global markets’, Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) of India expressed hope that the Budget’s focus on infrastructure would boost the country’s foreign trade.

“Emphasis on rail and road by increased investment along with better port connectivity should help the foreign trade in the long run,” says T. S. Bhasin, Chairman, Engineering Export Promotion Council (EEPC) India.

The EEPC Chairman also exuded confidence that, “Customs Single Window Project to be implemented at major ports and airports from the next financial year”, will also help the country’s foreign trade, as he welcomed proposed changes in the Customs Act which provides for deferred payment of customs duties for importers and exporters with a proven track record.

He further said, ”ease of doing business for Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs), with regard to procedures for Advance Licence and Duty Free Import Authorization Schemes retrospectively, aids the engineering, steel exporters and manufacturers of steel.”

Other announcements including, “changes in customs rates on certain inputs to reduce costs and improve competitiveness of industry in sectors like Information technology hardware, capital goods, defence production, textiles, mineral fuels & mineral oils, chemicals & petrochemicals, paper, paperboard & newsprint, Maintenance Repair and Overhauling of aircrafts and ship repair”, are positive news for the exporters, he added.

However, Bhasin expressed dissatisfaction saying, “No big relief measures are found in the Budget for the distressed export sector, which has priorities for the crucial need of foreign exchange for the country and the employment potential in a number of sectors like engineering.”

In this regard, he urged the Department of Revenue to work closely with the Commerce Ministry and Reserve Bank of India to unveil some specific packages for the exporters.

According to the Ministry of Finance, the total outlay for infrastructure in budgetary estimates for 2016-17 stands at Rs.2,21,246 crore.

This was published in The Dollar Business on February 29, 2016

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