The Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Shri Piyush Goyal held a meeting, through video-conferencing, with office bearers of the Services Export Promotion Council (SEPC), and stakeholders representing various Services sector. The stakeholders made several suggestions and demands during the meeting, in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic, subsequent lockdown, and the ongoing Unlocking. The services sector is important for Indian external trade- the RBI data shows that in April 2020, the Services exports were Rs 1,25,409 Crore and imports were Rs 70,907 Crore.
Responding to various suggestions, Shri Piyush Goyal said that the services sector has large potential, but the same has not been harnessed fully. He said that the segment, which has been most successful in the Services, is the IT and allied services, and it flourished due to its own capabilities, and without seeking much of the Government’s support, which many times comes with the bureaucratic strings and control as well. He called upon the industry to develop competitive advantage, focus on quality, and explore new destinations and services. The Minister said that the Government also has priorities and limitations- it can make focused and policy interventions, help the sector/industry in its nascent stages/startup level, help them grow, check the unfair practices, but can’t be seen providing support all the time. He called upon the participants to give constructive and forward-looking suggestions. He said that Indian missions abroad have started pitching ineffectively to explore Indian exports there.
The Minister exhorted the Services sector to see Covid crisis as an opportunity, and not as a challenge. He said the world is going to be different post-Covid, as new norms are setting in, in terms of work, education, entertainment, health etc. On certain suggestions, the minister said that the sectors themselves should first build consensus on them, by talking to all stakeholders. He said that there is no reason why the Services sector has so much import, when we have a large and varied skilled workforce. He called upon the sector to take the help of Indians in various services, and in fact help in upgrading their skills by exposure and capacity-building.