The government on Tuesday said that all claims related to a key scheme for services exports have been disposed of except those in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. Services exporters had alleged that hundreds of crores in claims were pending for multiple years under the Service Exports from India Scheme (SEIS), compounding liquidity problems of the sector hit the hardest by the Covid-19 outbreak.
“All SEIS claims have been disposed of except in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. There was a deadline for July,” said Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Amit Yadav at a virtual event. Launched in 2015 to boost services exports from the country, the scheme offers incentives of 5-7% of net foreign exchange earned and it covers nine broad services sectors including communication, business, construction and tourism, among others. The benefit is extended in the form of duty credit scrip which enables the holder to import all goods which are freely importable without payment of basic customs duty. The scrip and the goods imported against the scrip are freely transferable.
In 2018-19, a total of 6,376 scrips were issued under SEIS by various regional authorities worth Rs 4,262.8 crore. Industry bodies has represented to the government citing pendency, which especilaly went up after the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence issued notices to many exporters over misuse of the scheme. Claims were also stuck in cases where there were issues under the now discontinued Served From India Scheme.
Yadav also said that the Merchandise Export from India Scheme (MEIS) will go away in December. Certain sections of the government have said that MEIS, a key incentive for exporters, has failed to deliver the desired result of boosting exports. India’s merchandise exports have hovered around $300 billion in the last five years, despite the scheme’s liberal application across sectors. The liability under MEIS was around Rs 45,000 crore in FY20.
Yadav also said that by the end of the year, there will be an overhaul of the DGFT’s systems on Advance Authorisation and Export Obligation Discharge. “Then other aspects will come in. It is work in progress,” he said. Last month, DGFT launched a new digital platform the first phase of which will cater to the services related to the issuance of Import Export Code (IEC), modification, amendment processes along with a Chatbot (a virtual assistant). Other online modules relating to Advance Authorisation, EPCG, and Exports Obligation Discharge which are part of next phase will be rolled out subsequently after the first phase stabilizes.