A 14-member exporters delegation met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on January 24 seeking his intervention for making the Indian exports competititive by giving them incentives like refund of the various local taxes. When the Prime Minister checked with the Finance Ministry, it was revealed that the government has already disbursed Rs 8000 crore under the Target Plus Scheme of the Commerce Ministry. The exporters? team, under the aegis of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) were in for a shock. None of the genuine exporters who create three million jobs in the country, received a penny from the money shown in the books as spent on the Target Plus scheme. ?We told the government please show us the names of the exporters who have received this money, equivalent to two billion dollar,? spent in the name of promoting exports.
Obviously, the money has gone to ??exporters? close to the top people in the government which now sees genuine exporters knocking at its doors for relief.
The Target Plus scheme was announced by the NDA Government and it was meant to reward the exporters who would achieve the incremental growth in their foreign exchange earnings. While the scheme was announced by then Commerce and Industry Minister Arun Jaitley, it was left to Mr Kamal Nath to implement it by framing rules. ?Rules were obviously made to help certain people in the name of export,? said a leading Delhi-based exporter.
It is only now that the Prime Minister Office is believed to be opposing the Target Plus scheme which has been milked by the unscruplous friends of the government. Tussle between the Commerce and Finance Ministries over the exporters? scheme has been going on for quite some time. There are so many differences between the two senior ministers in the government that it is very often that the crucial issues like DEPB (Duty Entitlement Pass Book) tax are referred to the Economic Advisory Council in the PMO. ?But for the issue being referred to the PMO, we would not have got issue relating to the DEPB taxation resolved,? senior exporter said.
While the PMO does come and intervene between the wrangling ministries, how would it handle the Rs 8000-crore (two billion dollar) scam around the Target Plus scheme which is about to be scrapped. While the scheme, after its abuse, is thrown to the bin, would there be a vigilance inquiry into the scandal? The PMO must try and explain!.
While the scamsters flourish under the present dispensation, genuine exporters continue to suffer a heavy transaction cost with the result that the optimistic target of 100 billion dollar exports would remain a far cry. In the first three quarters of this fiscal, India had a trade deficit of about 30 billion dollar plunging the country'scurrent account into a deficit after several years. The government thinks it could bridge this gap by the FII (foreign institutional investors) inflows into the highly volatile stock market.That would be too risky a proposition for the country.