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Commerce Ministry mulls refund for exporters via single window

The Commerce Ministry is looking at ways in which the coming Budget can provide further relief to exporters under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime.
It is discussing with the Finance Ministry the possibility of giving all tax refunds to small exporters via a single window, as also exempting exporters from paying IGST (Integrated GST) on inputs, as is done in many other parts of the world, including Europe, a government official told BusinessLine.
“Exporters have given us a number of proposals to help them get over the problems they are facing under the GST regime. Many of them have been already implemented. We are now discussing with the Finance Ministry whether it would be feasible to give GST exemptions on inputs to exporters or provide all refunds under one scheme,” the official said.
Exporters’ concern
Export organisations have been stressing that the refund system under the GST, however efficient, would result in blocking of the capital of exporters in payment of GST from the date of procurement of inputs to exports. “Depending on the duration of procurement of inputs, commercial production of output and its exports, the exporters’ money would be blocked. This is one of the factors blunting the competitive edge of exports,” according to FIEO.
While the Finance Ministry has been arguing that the GST regime is such that there is no provision for exemptions, exporters have argued that a large number of countries including Australia, Canada, Malaysia and the EU, provide exemption from VAT/GST on inputs required for export production.
Exporters have also made a case for providing all refund for exports to the micro and small exporters at one place. “Instead of separate applications for getting refund of Customs duty under the duty drawback scheme and refund for GST, the proposal is to provide both under a comprehensive duty drawback scheme. We are exploring if it is possible to go for it in the GST regime,” the official said. To make refunds speedier for exporters, the Finance Ministry has already said that it intended to operationalise the ‘e-wallet’ scheme from April. Under the scheme, the Government will credit a notional amount in an exporters’ e-wallet based on preceding year’s exports and an average GST rate. It would be a running account from which money would be debited when the IGST gets paid and credited again when the proof of export is given.