The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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We propose to set up sector-specific working groups with representatives of ministry of finance, the administrative ministries concerned, the state governments, financial institutions and the industry to work towards a common goal by framing action plans to achieve the potential to be implemented within a specified time schedule. For entertainment services, which is singularly handicapped by lack of investment, but has tremendous opportunities for exports, it is proposed to promote through suitable tax incentives contributions to venture capital funds which will provide finance to this sector. We are in dialogue with the ministry of finance how best this can be done.

“Services” as defined in the exim policy... include all the tradable services covered under the General Agreement on Trade in Services and earning free foreign exchange. Similarly, “service providers” have been defined ... list of services has also been included in... the handbook which is based on the General Agreement on Trade in Services. Having said this, I must admit that we have not yet put in place a system for collecting reliable statistics for export of services. This will engage our attention on a priority basis. Since there is no uniform standard in the world for this purpose, we have decided to set up a group consisting of representatives of the department of commerce, Central Statistical Organization, Reserve Bank of India, director general of Foreign Trade and director general of Commercial Intelligence and Statistics, Calcutta to consider all aspects of this issue and recommend to the government a system for collection and maintenance of data relating to export of services. Till such a system is finalized and put in operation, we propose to base the implementation of the scheme of promotion of services exports on free foreign exchange earned by any of the service providers listed in the handbook.

Let me now turn to agri and allied products exports. I am convinced that unless we can ensure that the rural sector and Indian farmers receive visible benefits from economic reforms and the process of globalization, it may not be possible to accelerate economic growth. You would recollect that we had introduced the scheme of agro export processing zones in the 2002-2007 policy for end to end development of export of specific products from a geographically contiguous area. We are gratified that there has been an enthusiastic response to the scheme from the states and the rural community. As many as 45 AEZs have been notified so far in different parts of the country. We want to further accelerate this process. Agriculture and its allied products is our core competence. Not only is it diversified with a large variety of crops, fruits, vegetables and flourishing dairy sector, but we are among the world leaders in output of many products.

As all of you are aware, one of the limiting factors in the increase in agricultural productivity and quality and for protecting it from the vagaries of monsoon is the lack of or inadequate investment in this sector for bringing to the farmer the latest techn- ology and knowledge and for setting up critical infrastructure in the form of water harvesting and soil management, better quality of seeds and optimal use of inputs, adoption of scientific pre- and post harvest treatment and storage and establishment of linkage with international marketing. In spite of the enthusiasm shown by state governments, availability of investible resources in creation of such critical infrastructure even in the AEZs has been a constraint. In view of this, we propose to also facilitate and promote association of corporates with proven credentials in the implementation of AEZs in order to give a boost to productivity and quality of specified agro products leading to accelerated exports. For this purpose, we are having consultations with ministry of finance who are receptive to the idea, to provide appropriate incentives to enable investments by these corporates to infrastructure, agricultural extension, processing, packing, storage, research and development and other facilities relating to exports in the approved AEZs.

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