New Delhi: The Commerce and Finance ministeries will soon take a view on the issue of release of duty refund claims of exporters, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma today said.

“I have discussed the matter with the Finance Minister. The commerce secretary will discuss the issue with the revenue secretary to expedite the refund of pending funds,” Sharma told reporters here.

Exporters have claimed that the duty refund claims have touched Rs 12,000 crore.

Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher said that tomorrow he would meet his revenue counterpart on the matter.

“I hope we will resolve the issue,” Kher said.

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) has said that liquidity is a big issue for exports and pending claims of refund of service tax, duty drawback, rebate claims and VAT are affecting exports.

Government has fixed an export target of USD 325 billion for the current fiscal.

Although Sharma did not say whether the target would be achieved or not but said “i feel exports will be definitely higher than last year”. In 2012-13, exports stood at USD 300.4 billion.

During April-January, exports grew by 5.71 per cent to USD 257 billion, while imports dipped by 7.81 per cent to USD 377 billion. The trade deficit was about USD 119 billion. In the remaining two months, the country requires about USD 70 billion to reach the target.

“We will be able to substantially bring down the trade deficit (this fiscal),” he said.

When asked whether signing of free trade agreements have impacted the growth of India’s manufacturing sector, Sharma said: “this perception is wrong”.

He said that there is sluggishness in the growth of the manufacturing sector.

The manufacturing sector, which constitutes over 75 per cent of the IIP, declined by 1.6 per cent in December, as against a contraction of 0.8 per cent in the year-ago period.

He said that the government should provide credit at “differential rate” to companies to boost investments in the sector.

“The cost of credit should come down (for manufacturing sector),” Sharma added.

Further on the proposed National Investment and Promotion Zones (NIMZs), the minister said the government has notified 16 such zones and master plan for eight have been prepared with the help of global consultants.

To reduce imports of electronics products, he said the government has approved setting up of two IT investment regions in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Both have been given the status of NIMZs.

The National Manufacturing Policy (NMP) envisages setting up of NIMZs, which are industrial townships, bench arked to the best manufacturing hubs in the world.

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