The Udyog Bhawan & the North Block houses the elite policymakers & probably the best of the IAS & the IRS (because in any efficient system, the merit should rise to the top & be entrusted with policy making task) but then when you find the best in the country indulging into a con game & ripping off the beneficiaries then you surely know that why this great country is where it is? The Indian bureaucracy is not tired of self-praise & reforms but then the compulsive changes cannot be touted as reforms just to make a fool out of everybody. Sooner or later, everybody understands that they are cracking a poor joke!
The readers would note that I had done two articles in two parts under the title “Export Promotion: DGFT & CBEC- Why bureaucracy rejoices in failure of clean administration” & here are the links:
However, it appears that neither the DGFT nor the CBIC is bothered though the article was put not only in the mailbox of those officials but in the mail boxes of all concerned with export promotion in the bureaucracy & administration as such. This tells you that there is absolutely no change in the systemic corruption at all, but the things are going from bad to worse. Even if the corrupt practices are laid out threadbare, it does not bother the conscience that they are caught red handed nor it bothers the Indian bureaucracy that they are touching a new low in conduct on almost everyday basis.
At the cost of the repletion, the readers may please note that the Foreign Trade Policy effective 5.6.12 carried in paragraph 2.45 the following.
Trade Facilitation through EDI Initiatives
|A secure EDI Message Exchange system for various documents i.e. Authorisations, Shipping Bills, IEC, Application Fee, RCMCs has been established with trade partners i.e. Customs, Banks and Export Promotion Councils. These documents are no longer required to be physically filed with DGFT or transmitted physically to the concerned partners. Therefore, it has reduced the transaction cost for the exporters. It is the endeavour of DGFT to enlarge the scope and domain of EDI exchange continuously.
The DGFT responded saying that only the fields pertaining to the issuance of the MEIS entitlement are being transmitted & that DG (Systems) has been reminded for complete transmission of the data & that Customs is busy with ICEGATE integration with GSTN for providing refunds. Nothing can be further from the truth for the following reasons:
A. Why this task was not completed on 5.6.12 i.e. as soon as the same was specified in the HBP?
B. Why certain fields are not transmitted by the Customs department? Are they trying to hide something from the DGFT? If yes, what is it? Is the Customs playing favourites in certain cases & deriding several other cases on the whims & fancy by way of manual files? Is this not corruption in itself?
C. The DGFT should understand that there is no place for telling lies because the DFIA EODC & transferability was carried out through the EDI system as early as 2009. Please note that DFIA is nothing but a transferable Advance Authorization (AA). Further, please note that this writer had filled in the data in July 2014 based on the MEIS data transmission & this data was auto populated in the AA redemption file & the said file with data was sent to the DGFT. Therefore, the DGFT is indulging into an outright lie. Thereafter, the DGFT purposefully shut down that facility. The question is that why the policy makers should cheat in this manner?
D. It is pertinent to point out that the computerization started in DGFT in 1988 & in 2000, they created the Business Identification Number (BIN) & crores have been spent in Customs as well as the DGFT but till date but without any facilitation as such. This is the result of the cunning mindset of the Indian bureaucracy. They can never think straight & do really something, which will facilitate the beneficiaries. Is the bureaucracy so dumb?
E. Please note that the data of the AA is transmitted electronically by the DGFT to the Customs & registration number generated. Therefore, the export & import data is available in the EDI database of the Customs server. The Customs department is the implementer therefore the DGFT only needs the Name of the Export Item, Quantity & FOB value of the exports & Name of the Import Item, Quantity & CIF value of the imports to discharge the Export obligation. The DGFT has no right to sit in judgement as an oversight authority. Is the DGFT trying to say that this basic principle of the scheme of the division of labour is not understood?
F. Was the DGFT not aware that the Customs required to transmit the complete data when the data transmission for the MEIS started on 1.4.15 then why only the data transmission for MEIS was started? The DGFT simply blamed the CBEC for the fiasco? I pity the DGFT because despite being the Policy making authority, the DGFT throwing the hands up!
G. Please note that there is absolutely no rocket science in data transmission. It is a very simple exercise. Alternatively, providing a viewing window is the easiest of all. However, if the officials at the helm are simply bent on cheating there is no way out. Is the DGFT trying to say that a few fields in data transmission could not be carried out! Why the DGFT is trying to make a fool out of everybody? Is this not despicable? The DGFT, Chairman, CBIC, Udyog Bhawan & North Block mandarins are not able to see the cheating taking place & therefore a common man is compelled to write to them but then too they too seems to be least bothered. I also asked the DGFT to provide me the details of the missing fields not being transmitted by the Customs but then DGFT refrained from it. I established beyond doubt that EODC/redemption can be granted based on MEIS data itself.
H. There should be always some motivation even if there is cheating behind it. To my mind, the simple reason is that if everything can be very easily done by the software then what justifies the existence of the DGFT. I had said decades ago that there can be simply an export Promotion officer posted in Customs to take care of the problems & there is no dual authority/control needed & this is truer today.
I. If there is a software driven approach adopted then there is no bias in the system & there is a footprint in the system that who permitted cheating by overruling the rule of law therefore the bureaucracy would never want that deterrent. Reportedly, the officially rampantly grant favours for rent & what happened in an individual file cannot be easy to detect & the big files are simply lost over a period in the system. There is no trace left & the bureaucrat is free of the guilt not because he did not do anything wrong but because there is no trace left in the system to catch him. The art of favours is well practiced both in the Customs as well as the DGFT therefore the policy makers have a vested interest in perpetuating the manual systems & not carry out the required automation. Both the MoC & MoF are good at providing lip service in the name of reforms & facilitation & nothing beyond that? I am compelled to say so because you may be dumb product of the cram & vomit education system but then when the complete facts are available on record, you cannot close your eyes & look the other way because this is manipulation & cunningness in play at its worst.
J. Last but not the least important is the fact that where is the responsibility & accountability in the system? Why the Cabinet Secretary not in a position to act against all the DGFTs for failure to implement transmission of data from the Customs to the DGFT. Why the CVC is not able to take note of the corrupt practices & hold them responsible for ripping off the exchequer? We cannot continue to pretend dumb because this outrightly concerns the progress of the nation. One of the significant engines of growth is exports & the same cannot be neglected in any case. The article is circulated to all concerned & this writer will respond to any issues pointed out. The DGFT/Customs punish the exporters for a missing comma or a full stop but when it comes to the policymakers, why they are not ever punished? Why the country should accept such an unjust system?
K. From the reply of the DGFT, it is self-evident that the DGFT resorted to a temporary respite by blaming the CBEC & the GST but what next? Is the DGFT not ashamed off that there is no reported progress in the matter & implementation of the legal provision introduced in 2012? I provided an ample opportunity to come clean but then there must be intention & will but that is completely missing! If this was happening in the private sector then as a competency assessor, I can tell you that this will never be tolerated & the person will be handed over the pink slip & shown the door with no reporting from the next day i.e. the person will not be tolerated for a day even!
The readers will understand that corruption is a state of mind therefore until & unless there is a change in the mindset of the policymakers & implementers, there is absolutely no scope for real reforms & progress. If we could not achieve simply transmission of data between the two authorities in a quarter century, can you ever think that the bureaucracy had any good intention ever to facilitate the exporters. The answer is emphatic No. Therefore, as on date, while dealing with the bureaucracy, the thought in your mind is that you are dealing with the most cunning & the crooked-on earth? When will this thought change? Is there any hope is the real question? The only change I have recently seen in the bureaucracy is that in intolerance i.e. when you call spade a spade, they simply gang up against you & create ghost problems in each & every case. This does not deter me because I have chosen a difficult path & I don’t mind walking alone. However, I must exhort the business & industry to rise above the selfishness & tell the bureaucracy that enough is enough & cheating is untenable!
(Above are personal view of Author and he can be reached at email@example.com)