The Centre is considering a proposal to shift Directorate General of
Foreign Trade (DGFT) office to the Department of Revenue (DoR) from the
Department of Commerce (DoC) — as part of measures to simplify processes
relating to export and import.
The suggestion described as a major
trade facilitation measure and in line with the Centre’s ‘Ease of Doing
Business’ initiative is understood to have been mooted recently by the Central
Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) in the DoR within the Finance Ministry.
The DGFT’s role includes Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) formulation and
implementation — to in turn boost India’s exports. It is manned mainly by the
Indian Trade Service (ITS) cadre officials, but is usually headed by an Indian
Administrative Service (IAS) officer.
If the proposal, that the CBEC put forward in a recent inter-ministerial
meeting convened by the Cabinet Secretariat, is accepted, the DGFT will be
placed within the DoR and staffed entirely by Indian Revenue Service (IRS)
This development follows the DoC recently seeking to hive off non-core
areas and to utilise its resources in ‘core focus areas’ such as trade
negotiations with other economic blocs and countries.
The CBEC said it was getting several complaints from the foreign trade
sector saying the current division of trade facilitation-related work between
DoC and DoR was resulting in ‘red tapism’ and delays.
It will be better if the entire trade facilitation work is brought under a
single interface to ensure greater ease of doing business, the CBEC said. India
is currently ranked 130th out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s (ease of)
Doing Business report this year and further lower at 143rd when it comes to
‘trading across borders’.