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Govt extends sops; confident of $200 billion worth exports

New Delhi: The government today extended sops worth Rs1,052 crore to exporters, particularly for the labour-intensive textile, handicrafts and leather sectors, to help them see through the fragile economic recovery globally, reports PTI.

"We are not yet out of the woods," commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma said while extending the schemes like Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB), under which taxes are reimbursed to exporters, subsidised interest and sops for import of capital goods.

Releasing the annual supplement to the Foreign Trade Policy 2009-14, he said the revenue implication of these measures would be Rs1,052 crore.

The government made it clear that the popular DEPB scheme, which has been in vogue for over a decade, is being extended for the last time.

"Recognising the fragile recovery and the prevailing uncertainties (in the global markets), I have been able to obtain extension of DEPB one last time for a further period of six months till 30 June, 2011", Mr Sharma said. 

Experts said drawing the curtains on the DEPB scheme was inevitable as it was considered incompatible with the global trade rules under World Trade Organisation (WTO). 

However, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar indicated to reporters that the ministry might formulate an alternative scheme. 

A number of additional products from sectors like engineering, leather, textiles and jute have also been added to the existing two per cent interest subvention scheme. 

Handloom, handicrafts, carpet and the SMEs have been getting this facility, which will now be available till 31 March, 2011. 

As regards the prospect of the current fiscal, the minister said: "We are on course to achieving export target ($200 billion) for 2010-11". Exports in the previous fiscal totalled $178.6 billion in the midst of the global economic crisis, which affected demand in the developed world. 

The government also extended the zero-duty Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG) scheme by one year to 31March, 2012. The scheme, which was announced in August last year, was to expire on 31 March, 2011. 

Steps to reduce transaction cost of exports too were announced in the policy. At present, transaction costs are estimated at 7%-8% of the exports value. 

India Inc and exporters’ bodies today expressed satisfaction over the steps taken by the government in wake of the global demand slowdown and domestic resource constraints. 

"It is a forward looking policy," Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) president A Sakthivel said. 

Most chambers, including Ficci and CII, welcomed the policy supplement, amid promises that the transaction cost for exporters would be brought down by 40 per cent.

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Immigration policy won't erect barriers: UK minister

London: The UK has no plans to erect barriers or close doors on Indian business but it wants to deliver controlled immigration with a faster and fairer system as part of its new policy, reports PTI.

This is what immigration minister Damian Green will tell Indian entrepreneurs during his three-day visit to the country commencing today.

The minister will meet education sector and senior business representatives to take forward the dialogue as part of the broader consultation process on the UK's immigration policy.

During his time in Delhi, the minister will meet Vayalar Ravi, minister of overseas Indian affairs; Anand Sharma, minister of commerce and industry; Mullapally Ramachandran, minister of state at the ministry of home affairs; and Preneet Kaur, minister of state at the external affairs ministry.

Mr Green will also visit Chandigarh where he will thank the Punjab government for its co-operation with the UK on migration.

He will meet Shivraj Patil, governor of Punjab; chief minister Parkash Singh Badal; and P S Gill, director general of police, Punjab.

Ahead of his visit, Mr Green said: "When prime minister David Cameron came to India at the end of last month, he came with a clear purpose — to take the UK-India relationship to a new level, to make it 'stronger, wider, deeper'. This ambition was warmly welcomed by our Indian counterparts and friends.

"As Britain's minister for immigration, I recognise that I have a key role in taking this new enterprise forward.

I look forward to using my visit to explain the changes under way in the UK's immigration system and the reasons for them.

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