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India: Govt to refund 90% of exporters' claims within 7 days

January 6, 2017

While crucial issues under the yet-to-come goods and services tax (GST) regime still unclear, the government has decided to refund within a week most claims of exporters regarding export incentive schemes. “Ninety per cent of the amount claimed by exporters as credit drawbacks will be refunded within seven days,” commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday.

The department of revenue has also assured her ministry that in an undue delay beyond two weeks, interest will be paid on the amount due. Speaking at the second meeting of the Council for Trade Development and Promotion (CTDP), a platform for state governments and the Centre to converse, she said these matters regarding export payments have been discussed between ministries.

The government has also announced that a new states' ranking on logistics performance would be initiated by February. Taking a cue from the State Ease of Doing Business Index, the department of industrial policy and promotion will be setting up a Logistics Index, with the aim of boosting the trade and transport infrastructure.

Recognised exporters of manufactured goods receive credit incentives, generally in the form of duty drawbacks, in various forms. The three major sector-specific ones are the Advance Authorisation Scheme, Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme and the Deemed Exports Scheme, accounting for Rs 35,000 crore in government payouts. Since exports will continue to be considered zero-rated in terms of GST taxation, exporters have asked that the wait time between paying taxes in advance and getting refunded shouldn’t be too long. They also warn that a long wait would increase liquidity problems, asking for more ease in availing of exemptions under the new tax regime.

"Although we have met with the central government, they feel it will only be possible if the states agree to the same, as exports are subject to the Integrated GST, which has both central and state GST components,” said S C Ralhan, president of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations. However, GST clearly states that the taxes must be paid, with the amount being refunded later, said commerce secretary Rita Teaotia. The last 10 per cent would be subject to whatever verification the revenue department is required to do, she added.

The government has also declared a moratorium on approving new Inland Container Depots and Customs Freight Stations. In spite of the country having 120 and 150 of these, respectively, there is a lack of official data regarding how many are operating at optimal levels. While some are lean, others are working at over-capacity, Sitharaman said. Also, she revealed, a central scheme is on the drawing board which might be an alternative to the Assistance to States for Development of Export Infrastructure and Allied Activities Scheme, oversight over which was transferred from the Centre to the states on the 14th Finance Commission's recommendation. States have continued to demand that all unfinished projects under the scheme be borne by the centre. Decided at the earlier CTDP meeting, 18 states have crafted their own export policy; 28 have appointed export commissioners.


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