Sharma makes last bid for DEPB scheme

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Commerce Minister Anand Sharma today made a last-ditch effort to get the popular tax refund scheme for exporters, DEPB, extended beyond June 30 in his meeting with Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee.

"He is well appraised with all the issues and sensitive to our concerns," Sharma told reporters after the meeting.

Under the Duty Entitlement Pass Book (DEPB) scheme, the incidence of customs duty on import content of export products is neutralised and reimbursed to the exporters. 

Exporters claim about Rs 8,000 crore annually from the government, under the scheme, which had been extended several times.

Asked about the response of the Finance Minister, Sharma said, "You will know in the due course. We had a very good detailed discussion on all these matters which are of concern."

Exporters are opposed to the move and have been pleading with the government that either the scheme should remain intact or be replaced by an equally good alternative.

However, with exports witnessing a recovery with 37.5% growth in 2010-11, the Finance Ministry has shown reluctance to extend the scheme.

But exporters have warned their shipments would drop to $200 billion in the current fiscal. Overseas shipments in the previous financial year were $246 billion.

The Commerce Ministry may provide other market focus schemes like Focus Market Scheme and Focus Product Scheme to export sector in the absence of the tax refund scheme aimed at boosting the country's merchandise shipments.

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