Foreign trade regulator DGFT is staring at the prospect of having to reinvent itself as a bulk of its current work profile is going online with digitisation and the impending rollout of the goods and services tax (GST). The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT), under the commerce ministry, facilitates exports and administers programmes like the Merchandise Exports from India Scheme, Advance Authorisation and Export Promotion for Capital Goods.
“Our effort is to see how we shall optimise our human resources to continue supporting domestic exporters. We have to see how we use our human resources which will be freed after implementation of GST,” a senior commerce ministry official told PTI. With the focus on digitisation, most of the activities are now being handled online like providing export-import code numbers and the like. Once the new indirect tax structure comes into effect, all the remaining work will be carried out digitally.
GST, which is set to roll out from July 1, will subsume excise, service tax and various other levies. “A lot of work would come under the automatic system and the DGFT would not require the kind of manpower it needed in the past. We have to redeploy human resources,” the official added.
International consulting firm Frost and Sullivan has already submitted a report to the commerce ministry as part of efforts to revamp the DGFT.
Prior to 1991, the DGFT was known as the Chief Controller of Imports and Exports. In 2016-17, India’s total merchandise trade stood at about USD 655 billion.
With a view to raising India’s share in global trade, the government continuously monitors the export performance and takes need-based measures, keeping in view financial and overall economic implications. NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Arvind Panagariya has recently said India needs to focus on domestic policies to step up its share of global trade to 4-5 per cent, from the current 1.7 per cent.