It is the prime responsibility of the policy makers to exercise due diligence in carrying out prime responsibility & in doing so application of mind should be visible. As per the mandate of the Parliament, the DGFT exists to facilitate exports by way of Export Promotion Policy. I have been involved with exports since 1983 but as on today also, I feel that the policy makers are over concerned about facilitating unscrupulous exporters & those who work in a legally oriented manner are made to suffer.

In this case study, we talk about a very trivial issue of pro-rata enhancement to be carried out by RLA, Mumbai & even that cannot be handled in a timely manner. Please note that the DGFT has determined liberal timeline for carrying out the work for the exporters. For an amendment like pro-rata enhancement, the DGFT has specified 3 working days.  The readers conversant with Advance Authorization will realize that pro-rata enhancement is an entitlement, which cannot be declined as such because the exporter has conducted excess exports & therefore would like to increase the imports entitlement on pro-rata basis. In this case, the pro-rata enhancement request was put in & 3 working days call date was given for the return of amended documents. However, the work was not completed. Therefore, the matter was taken up with the RLA, Mumbai including the head of the office. However, the matter was not completed even on the 4th day. Thereafter, the matter was brought to the attention of the DGFT also on the 5th day but once again to no avail. This may seem very ordinary because Indian bureaucracy is well adapted in playing with delays to extract a pound of flesh. However, the point of law is that where is the responsibility & accountability in the system? What is the use of raising the issue to the attention of the RLA, Mumbai or the DGFT, if they are not able to intervene & redress the situation? The regional head of RLA, Mumbai & the DGFT cannot behave like glorified clerks & be least bothered when the issue is brought to their attention? Both these authorities have personal secretariat to take care of the work & this needs to be put to good use whenever exporter brings anything to their personal notice. Please note that as on today, most of the work is carried out through the e commerce platform without the human intervention therefore, there is very little amount of work to be carried out by the officials effectively. There are too many layers created in the DGFT, which are not required at all because once the applications are on the system, any official can access it throughout the organization on the intranet & this feature needs to be basically used extensively to facilitate the exporters. However, nothing of that is visible though as pointed out, DGFT is the facilitator as per the mandate of the Parliament. It is difficult to understand that why the DGFT is not able to improve the ground reality & responsibility & accountability in the system. The Prime Minister has been talking about ease of doing business but then it is not merely a slogan but needs to be implemented rigorously. However, if the head of the RLA, Mumbai & the DGFT seem to be least bothered, where is the scope for any improvement? The GoI spends several thousand Crores by way of exemption/Remission/Rebates etc. but till the time, timeline cannot be adhered to in a disciplined manner or head of the RLA, Mumbai/DGFT failed to question the failure to comply, there is no way that you make export promotion policy successful. You need working hands who can deliver?

Besides, the delay, I would like to highlight another significant aspect i.e. callous attitude & non application of mind on the part of the Policy makers to continue & perpetuate corrupt practices. The DGFT seems to have vested interest in not completing all processes through the electronic means though this is the declared objective since 5.6.2012. My point is simple that anything & everything is possible in an individual file when the officials are attending to it. However, if data is on an electronic platform in a very transparent manner then there is no scope left for any cheating because every time a footprint is left in the system. The computerization started in 1988 but till date the DGFT has not been able to put the Revalidation, EOP Extension, Pro-rata enhancement, Bond Waiver/EODC & or redemption applications on the system. The DGFT cannot say that these applications cannot be done on the system in any case because that is not the truth of the matter. However, as pointed out earlier, there is absolutely no application of mind visible but on the other hand the vested interest to perpetuate the delay & continue their play on the individual files, the processes are deliberately kept offline. It is not that the DGFT is not aware of all this but then who bothers? The DGFT comes out with policy & procedures from time to time but the moot point is in all other countries, the exporters are taken care off very well & they have not to run around the authorities to get their legitimate entitlements & therefore they are able to achieve results. In 30 years, the DGFT could not even implement computerization then don’t you think that there cannot be a greater miserable failure? You need young blood well adapted to technology to deliver results & not spent force, for whom technology is a dreadful subject. Many young minds who joined ITS have been disillusioned & left the job for greener pastures just because even the mundane task of implementation by the Regional Licensing authorities cannot be delivered because of the constraints in the system & flawed functioning. Its really a very scary scenario!

(Above are personal view of Author and he can be reached at [email protected] not necessarily subscribe to the views of Author)

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March 2021