Lack of data hampers govt's services export promotion scheme: Officials

A case in point, animation services — an upcoming sector being promoted by the government — is conspicuous by its absence in the list of eligible services under the SEIS.
The lack of data has made difficult the commerce and industry ministry’s plans to expand the Services Exports from India Scheme (SEIS) and provide a crucial leg-up to new sectors.


Introduced in the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP) 2015-2020, the SEIS has been successful with incentives worth Rs 4,262 crore disbursed to services exporters in 2018-19 fiscal year.


“The government wants to widen the SEIS and boost support to services exporters by not only increasing reward in certain cases but also coverage of the scheme. But, getting requisite data to do so have been difficult,” said Sangeeta Godbole, director general of Services Exports Promotion Council (SEPC).


“The classification of sectors can also be improved, but we have to rely on data from industry associations to compile the size of the industry,” she said.


A case in point, animation services — an upcoming sector being promoted by the government — is conspicuous by its absence in the list of eligible services under the SEIS.


The booming sector of medical tourism is underrepresented, as only ‘hospital services’ are included in the scheme,

effectively cutting off specific services such as nursing and telemedicine from receiving government benefits.


No data


Senior officials said the lack of data had also hampered the government’s push to administer the 12 Champion Services Sectors initiative. Despite framing policy for the sector, the ministry doesn't track the size or growth of the services industry in the country. This is done by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), which compiles services exports with the data being released after a gap of two months.


The RBI data showed services exports stood at Rs 18.24 billion in August, totaling almost Rs 90 billion in the first five months of the current fiscal year. With $57 billion worth of inbound services, imports were not far behind.


The SEIS provides duty credit scrips to exporters at the rate of 5 per cent or 7 per cent of net foreign exchange earned, that are valid for 24 months from the date of issue. The freely transferable scrips can be used to pay for customs duties on import of inputs or goods as well as excise duties.


The scheme is not expected to be revised drastically by policymakers in the upcoming new FTP, as it is also compliant with the norms of the World Trade Organization (WTO).


This is significant since the government is scrambling to alter the majority of schemes for merchandise exports, which have been deemed illegal by the WTO recently for providing undue government subsidy to traders.


Global push


To showcase India’s services sectors and boost foreign direct investments (FDI) into the sectors, the government will hold the 5th Global Exhibition on Services on 26-28 November in Bengaluru.


Six-hundred foreign delegates from 100 countries are expected, while firms from 15 states will be there, officials said. Strategic areas like aviation and space programme, infrastructure, telecom projects, and financial management have been earmarked for attracting FDI.


While information technology (IT) and IT-enabled services sectors make up an estimated 70 per cent of the domestic services industry, the government is aiming to get ahead on other sectors with major potential during GES, Godbole said.


Among these are eSports. The eSports industry is expected to grow rapidly, and in 2017, global revenue amounted to $655 million. The market is expected to generate close to $1.8 billion in revenue by 2022. There were 270 million global fans of eSports in 2016 and the number is expected to grow to 495 million in 2020.


For GES 2019, India has invited eSports federations from Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Australia, among others. SEPC is organising an International eSports Championship in association with Electronic Sports Federation of India (ESFI) during the exhibition.


To promote the rapidly expanding legal services sector, an International Moot Court competition is being organised during GES 2019 for young lawyers to argue cases related to intellectual property rights.


Participants from the BIMSTEC region (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, and Bhutan) and CLMV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam) were chosen, since their legal system is similar, an official said.


Niche tourism like the Buddhist circuit, adventure, and camping tourism will also be on display during the GES.



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