The communication has been kept “informal” as banning purchase of country-specific products would be in violation of the World Trade Organization (WHO) rules, said a government source privy to the development. According to him, the message has gone out to at least two dozen government organisations, ministries including Income-tax department, Customs & Excise, Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, postal department and even regulators.
All central and state government departments, as well as related public sector agencies are mandated to directly purchase common-use goods and services solely through the Government e-marketplace (GeM). On this platform, sellers have to register and compete with others in an open-market model. Last week, GeM, a special purpose vehicle under the Minister of Commerce & Industry, was told that any new product on the portal must mention the country of origin. The feature was added to guide a buyer better, officials said.
“Such directives are significant amid growing call to promote local suppliers and boycott Chinese goods,” said another source. Even states have been sensitised against Chinese goods and services on the portal, it is learnt. These departments typically purchase stationery, cleaning equipment, daily essentials, appliances and automobiles, among other things.
As of Monday, the portal showcased 1.85 million products and services. With 399,639 sellers and service providers, it has seen Rs 55,379-crore worth of transactions till now.
This is among the measures taken by the government recently to not just encourage ‘Make in India’ but also reduce imports from China.