BIS Act Set to Get Major Amendments
Standards are one of the most critical element of business. And the complexity is one of the key hurdles for any entrepreneur who would like to grow. Considering the impact of standards as a most critical part on business performance and it’s needed to be carefully looked upon, industry stakeholders came together to brainstorm this issue.
According to Mr. Keshav Desiraju, Secretary, Department of Consumer Affairs, Government of India, comprehensive amendments to the BIS Act are being undertaken to improve the standards regime in India. Mr. Desiraju was addressing the Standards Conclave 2015 – Role of Standards in International Trade: Challenges, Opportunities and Issues being organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in cooperation with the Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Government of India.
The Secretary stated that mandatory certification amendment was being considered in the revised Act. He stated that BIS has set and developed standards in over 19000 cases. These have evolved and only 122 are mandatory. 800 or so are voluntary and have been accepted by manufacturers from a trade point of view.
The revised act will help strengthen the government’s ability and authority to mandate standards. He stated that it was also necessary for industry to sensitise members to adopt voluntary standards. There were more than 17500 cases where no licenses have been issued. He felt that it was crucial for Indian industry to look at these standards and adopt these standards.
According to Mr. Rajeev Kher, Commerce Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ministry of Commerce and Industry quality plays an important role in consumer protection and has been made into a national mission with the adoption of “zero effect, zero defect” as a part of the Make in India campaign. For exporters, it adds greater value and improves product competitiveness.
The Commerce Secretary stated that there were some challenges. The first was to convince stakeholders of the importance of standards. He pointed out that even with the government there were some disagreements. The Commerce Secretary stated that a there was a need to set up an institute which comprises of technical persons and policy makers that would look at building capacity on standards and bring various stakeholders under one platform.
He stated that there was a need to learn from all our trading partners and develop a technical standards eco-system in the country. He also called for the development of standards in services sectors as it would help establish Indian services in the global market.
Addressing the participants, Mr. Adil Zainulbhai, Chairman, Quality Council of India, said that standards can help to improve quality of lives of Indian citizens. He pointed out that 15 years ago, automobile manufacturing in India was not known for its quality. Now it is one of the largest exporters thanks largely due to adoption of voluntary quality standards. Similarly, India has achieved excellent quality standards in generic medicine. Private players in healthcare sector have been accredited with world class standards. He felt that another area of focus is agriculture which employs large number of players.
In his address Mr. Sumit Mazumder, President, CII, said that India is aspiring to become a manufacturing hub, in line with Prime Minister Modi’s priority. To achieve this goal, there is a need to ensure strong quality compliance. This will help India’s companies join Global Value Chains (GVCs), reduce information asymmetry as well as reduce overall transaction cost. There is a need to improve India’s technical regulatory standards to the help Indian companies access global markets.
Earlier in his welcome address, Mr. Chandrajit Banerjee, Director General, CII stated that in a low tariff regime, the focus has now shifted to Non-Tariff Barrierrs (NTBs) including standards. On one hand, it can help improve the quality of goods but it also act as a barrier to trade. With the initiation of the Make in India campaign, standards and related measures have become significant and Indian Industry needs to prepare the challenges of high standards.