As per the World Bank report 2019 on Ease of Doing Business, India has taken a huge leap of 23 ranks from 100 in 2017-18 to 77 in 2018-19 indicating it is continuing its steady shift towards global standards. One of the key indices which has contributed immensely toward this growth is ‘Trading across borders’ which shows an impressive improvement from 146 rank last year to 80th rank this year.
The Ministry of Shipping has been taking initiatives to improve the parameter of ‘Trading across border’ as 92% of India’s Export- Import trade by volume is handled at ports.
The report mentions that this is mainly due to India’s continued reform agenda, which has made it the top-ranked economy in the region. Upgradation of port infrastructure, Improvement of processes, and digitization of document submission has substantially reduced Export/Import cargo handling time at ports which has significantly contributed towards improving the trading across border parameter and India’s impressive growth in the World Bank’s report. The World Bank has recognized India as one of the top improvers for the year.
According to the report, under the Border Compliance Criterion relevant to the Port Sector the Cost to Export has come down from $ 382.4 to $251.6. Similarly, the Cost to Import has come down from $ 543.2 to $ 331.
“Focused efforts at improving the export/import cargo handling at major ports has contributed to improving the Ease of Doing Business in India and thus will help in economic growth & more jobs opportunities for the youth.”,said Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
The Government has initiated a series of steps to make India’s EXIM logistics more competitive in terms of time and cost. A series of studies to bench mark the performance of Indian Major Ports with their international counterparts has been undertaken and steps to increase the capacity and productivity to global standards have been initiated. Specifically 114 initiatives which were identified have been undertaken.
“The focus has been on development of port infrastructure and capacity enhancement, improvement in last mile connectivity and development of multi-modal hubs to promote EXIM while reducing logistics cost and time. Under Sagarmala, port-led-development initiative of the Govt, 266 port modernization projects with an investment of more than Rs 1.45 lakh Crore has been identified for implementation over next 10 years.”saidthe Minister.
80 projects worth Rs. 13,701Cr have been completed and projects worth 2.39 lakh Crore are under implementation.
“In order to enhance last mile connectivity, 211 road-rail projects worth Rs 250,907 Crore have been identified under Sagarmala.15 multimodal logistic parks with an investment of Rs3,989 will help in improving efficiency in freight movement under the programme”, the minister added.
With more than 5 % average growth at major ports over last 4 years, the Ministry of Shipping, has taken several steps to improve their operational efficiencies through policy and procedural changes and mechanization.
As a result, key efficiency parameters have improved considerably. The Average Turnaround Time has reduced from 82 hrs to 64 hrs in 2017-18. The Average Output Per Ship Berth day has increased from 14,583Tonnes in 2016-17 and to 14,912 Tonnes in 2017-18. The traffic at major ports increased to 6794.7 lakh tonnes during 2017-18 over 6483.98 lakh tonnesduring 2016-17.
Transfer of conventional activities to digital platforms, use of technology for moving cargo and simplification of processes have been done topromote business and facilitate ease of doing business.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)system installed in 11 Major Ports to enhance security, remove bottlenecks for seamless movement of traffic across Port gates. The RFID system automatically identifies the trucks and drivers without the need to stop at the port gates for manual checking.
DMICDC's Logistics Databank system (LDB) for tracking & tracing movement of EXIM container in the Major Ports thereby enabling the consigners and consignees to track the movement of the Containers from portal.
Direct Port Delivery (DPD) and Direct Port Entry (DPE) enable direct movement of containers from factories / port without intermediate handling requirement, thus saving cost & time
Direct Port Delivery of Import containers increased from 3% in November 2016 to 40.62% in July, 2018. The DPD importers are benefited by savings in cost ofupto Rs.15,000/ and average serving in delivery time of 5 days. The percentage of Direct Port Entry of Export containers increased from 60% in April 2017 to 82.66 in July, 2018.
Installation of drive-through Container Scanners to save time at Major Ports Reducing paper work- Issuance of e- Delivery orders, e-invoice and e-payment across all the Major Ports. Digitalization of processes has considerably reduced the processing time.
Upgradation of the Centralized Web Based-Port Community System (PCS) to provide global visibility and access to the central database to all its stakeholders through internet based interfaces
India and Japan signs a Loan Agreement worth Rs. 1817 crore for the ‘Project for the Construction of Turga Pumped Storage (I)’contributing to the Industrial Development and Living Standard Improvement in the State of West Bengal
A Loan Agreement was signed here today between Shri C.S. Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs (DEA), Ministry of Finance, Government of India and Mr. Katsuo Matsumoto, Chief Representative, JICA, New Delhi on Japanese Official Development Assistance loan for the construction of Turga Pumped Storage (I) of Yen 29.442 Billion (Rs. 1817 crore approximately) [Exchange RATE: 1 Rupee= JPY 1.62]
The objective of the Project is to strengthen the capability to respond to fluctuation in supply and demand of power and to improve stability of the power supply by constructing the pumped storage facilities, thereby contributing to the Industrial Development and Living Standard Improvement in the State of West Bengal.
India and Japan have had a long and fruitful history of bilateral development cooperation since 1958.In the last few years, the economic cooperation between India and Japan has steadily progressed. This further consolidates and strengthens the Strategic and Global Partnership between India and Japan.
Highlights of the Bill The Bill establishes the National Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of India, and a State Compensatory Afforestation Fund under the Public Account of each state.
These Funds will receive payments for: (i) compensatory afforestation, (ii) net present value of forest (NPV), and (iii) other project specific payments. The National Fund will receive 10% of these funds, and the State Funds will receive the remaining 90%.
These Funds will be primarily spent on afforestation to compensate for loss of forest cover, regeneration of forest ecosystem, wildlife protection and infrastructure development.
The Bill also establishes the National and State Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authorities to manage the National and State Funds.
Key Issues and Analysis The Bill establishes the Funds for compensatory afforestation and forest conservation. However, there are several factors (other than administration of funds) which affect compensatory afforestation and forest conservation. These factors are mentioned below.
A 2013 CAG report noted that state forest departments lack the planning and implementation capacity to carry out compensatory afforestation and forest conservation. With the share of funds transferred to states increasing from 10% to 90%, effective utilisation of these funds will depend on the capacity of state forest departments.
Procuring land for compensatory afforestation is difficult as land is a limited resource, and is required for multiple purposes, such as agriculture, industry, etc. This is compounded by unclear land titles, and difficulties in complying with procedures for land use.
A High Level Committee on Environment Laws observed that quality of forest cover has declined between 1951 and 2014, with poor quality of compensatory afforestation plantations being one of the reasons behind the decline.
The Bill delegates the determination of NPV (value of loss of forest ecosystem) to an expert committee constituted by the central government. As NPV constitutes about half of the total funds collected, its computation methodology would be important.
The National Waterways Bill, 2015 was introduced in Lok Sabha on May 5, 2015 by the Minister of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping, Mr. Nitin Gadkari.
Under Entry 24 of the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the central government can make laws on shipping and navigation on inland waterways which are classified as national waterways by Parliament by law. The Bill identifies additional 101 waterways as national waterways. The Schedule of the Bill also specifies the extent of development to be undertaken on each waterway.
The Bill repeals the five Acts that declare the existing national waterways. These five national waterways are now covered under the Bill.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states that while inland waterways are recognised as a fuel efficient, cost effective and environment friendly mode of transport, it has received lesser investment as compared to roads and railways.
Since inland waterways are lagging behind other modes of transport, the central government has evolved a policy for integrated development of inland waterways.
The Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Amendment Bill, 2018 was introduced in Lok Sabha by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Piyush Goyal on August 7, 2018. It amends the Goods and Services Tax (Compensation to States) Act, 2017. The Act provides for compensation to states for any loss in revenue due to the implementation of GST.
Compensation Fund: The Act allows the central government to levy a GST Compensation Cess on the supply of certain goods and services. The receipts from the cess are deposited to a GST Compensation Fund. The amount deposited in the Fund is used to compensate states for any loss in revenue following the implementation of GST.
Under the Act, any unutilised amount in the Compensation Fund at the end of the transition period (five years from the date on which the state brings its State GST Act into force) is distributed in the following manner: (i) 50% of the amount is shared between the states in proportion to their total revenue, and (ii) remaining 50% is a part of the centre’s divisible pool of taxes.
The Bill inserts a provision specifying that any unutilised amount (as recommended by the GST Council) in the Compensation Fund at any time during the transition period will be distributed in the following manner: (i) 50% of the amount will be shared between the states in proportion to their base year revenue (2015-16), and (ii) remaining 50% will be part of the centre’s divisible pool of taxes.
The Act specifies that compensation payable to states has to be released at the end of every two months. The Bill states that in case of shortfall in this amount of compensation, it may be recovered in the following manner: (i) 50% of the amount from the centre, and (ii) the remaining 50% from the states in proportion to their base year revenue. However, this amount should not exceed the total amount transferred to the centre and states.