Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday assured exporters that they would get their refund tax claims within seven days under the new goods and services tax (GST) regime.
She also said that the GST Council has been fairly seized of the tax refund issue under the new indirect tax regime, to be rolled out from July 1.
"On the refund, we are very very clear that 90 per cent of the advanced payed money (by exporters in the GST regime) will be refunded within 6 to 10 days, post which an interest of about 6 per cent will be given for any delay by the government to exporters," she told reporters here.
She said this while speaking about the initiatives and achievements of the ministry in the last three years.
However, Sitharaman added that the ministry has asked the GST Council to consider to formulate an alternative mechanism for small and medium exporters on the issue pf payment of taxes.
"Our request with the council was that for SMEs. If we can think of giving an alternate to them rather than asking them to pay first and then get refund. We are yet to hear from them (Council)," she said.
Exporters have been demanding ab-initio exemption from payment of taxes under the GST regime arguing that delay in refunds often takes months.
Further, she said GST will help in improving exports as inputs are going to cost lesser for manufacturing exporters, as it would result in improving the product competitiveness in the global markets.
When asked about exporters' concern on rupee fluctuations, she said traders are fairly seized of this as "it is not a sudden fluctuation. Currency fluctuation has become a new normal".
"But, if there are extreme fluctuations, it is for the RBI to look at intervening just that much, so that, any extreme fluctuations are taken care of," she added.
On job creation, the minister informed that any proposal which goes to the Union Cabinet, "its (proposal's) implication on jobs, is something which the Prime Minister is very keen and we all are providing expected impact on direct and indirect employment of every such proposals which goes to the Cabinet".
India's exports grew by about 5 per cent to $276 billion in 2016-17.
Govt working on new industrial policy for North East states
The Commerce and Industry Ministry is working on a new policy for the industrial development of the North East states, Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.
The North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP), 2007 has ended this year.
In December 2016, the ministry had approved a package of fiscal incentives to promote industrialisation and investments in this region under this policy.
"The term for this has come to an end. Something else will have to be worked out for the benefit of North East. Both Niti Aayog and DIPP are in consultation," she told reporters here.
The ministry is holding consultations with those states to understand their industrial priorities with an aim to firm up something which can help in promotion of industry and employment generation there, she added.
Additional Secretary in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Atul Chaturvedi said that a task force has been set up on this. It would come up with a draft policy which will be taken to the cabinet soon, he said.
Meanwhile, Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday also sought to calm frayed nerves on the contentious visa issue, saying the number of H-1B visas for Indian IT professionals would not come down. She asked the industry not to get panicky. India accounts for the highest pool of qualified IT professionals in the US.