In line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s proposal put forward in his Independence Day speech last August on turning every district into an export hub, the Commerce Ministry is planning to put in place an institutional structure for this and is collecting data for the same.
A plan for district-wise export hubs could be announced in the Budget to be presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1, an official told.
“Commerce Ministry officials will hold meetings with counterparts from the GST Network (GSTN) and ICEGATE to generate district-wise data on enterprises and exports,” the official said.
As the GSTN has the responsibility of managing the entire IT system of the GST portal, which is the mother database for everything connected with GST, the Commerce Ministry hopes to get the district-wise information on manufacturing and exports.
Exporters claiming IGST refunds submit all documents, including shipping bills to the GSTN.
ICEGATE, a platform for electronic data inter-change between various government bodies such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade, and the Directorate-General of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, too, can be a good source of data on exports, the official said.
Each district has the potential equal to that of a country with its own distinct handicraft and unique specialities like saris, perfumes, and utensils, which have export potential, Commerce & Industry Minister Piyush Goyal had said at a meeting of the Board of Trade in September.
He had asked State governments, as part of their export strategies, to take measures to convert districts into export hubs.
“Although the Commerce Ministry has sought district-wise export data from the States, it wants to generate its own database, too, for expediting implementation of the plan,” the official said.
Once the data is collated, the government can draw an export profile of every State and their districts and strategise accordingly, the official added.
India’s exports, which have declined around two per cent in the April-October 2019 to $211.93 billion, need government support. But they have to be compliant with World Trade Organization rules, as the country is already fighting disputes at the multilateral body over some of its export-support programmes.
Goyal is also holding meetings with industry ministers and their teams from Gujarat, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on preparing theroadmap for turning districts into export hubs. The Commerce Ministry wants every State to have a district-wise nodal officer to coordinate with the Centre and State governments.