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Government releases National Trade Facilitation Action Plan

The Union Government released the 76 point National Trade Facilitation Action Plan (NTFAP). It was released by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in New Delhi.

The NTFAP has been adopted by the National Committee on Trade Facilitation (NCTF), reflecting Government’s commitment to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).

Key Facts

Aims of the action plan: Transform cross border clearance ecosystem through efficient, transparent, risk based, co-ordinated, digital, seamless and technology driven procedures supported by state-of-the-art sea ports, airports and land borders.

Objectives of the action plan: Achieve improvement in ease of doing business by reduction in cargo release time and cost, transparent and predictable legal regime, move towards paperless regulatory environment and improved investment climate through better infrastructure.

Activities listed in the Action Plan: It lists out specific activities which would be carried out by all regulatory agencies like Customs, Drug Controller, Plant Quarantine, FSSAI, DGFT etc. in time bound manner. The co-ordination among all the stakeholders is the key to achieve the objective of Trade facilitation.

It not only covers the activities coming under the TFA but also goes beyond the ambit of TFA, defined as TFA Plus category. It covers many activities in the areas of infrastructure augmentation, particularly the road and rail infrastructures leading to ports, airports, Land Customs stations, ICDs that cuts across all stakeholders for which various ministries like Civil Aviation, Shipping, Railways, Home Affairs, Road transport and Highways, Finance, Commerce etc have been assigned specified targets. All actions falling under the plan have been categorised by prioritising the activities into short term, mid-term and long-term activities.

Monitoring of the plan: The plan will be monitored by the Steering Committee (the operational arm of the NCTF) chaired by the Revenue Secretary and the Commerce Secretary. Further it will be reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary.

Background

Earlier in August 2016, the Union Government had constituted NCTF headed by the Cabinet Secretary in accordance with Article 23.2 of the WTO-TFA. It comprises stakeholders from the Government and the private sectors including trade community. It is headed by Cabinet Secretary.

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Cab safety measures for women included in the New Taxi Policy guidelines

Cab safety measures for women commuters as recommended by the Ministry of Women and Child Development to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways and Shipping (MoRTH) have been included in the new Taxi Policy guidelines. These recommendations from the Ministry of Women and Child Development comes at the backdrop of increasing cases of sexual harassment of women commuters in the cabs.

Recommendations that were included in the New Taxi policy guidelines are:

  • Mandatory fitting of GPS panic devices in the taxis.
  • To ensure the safety of women and child passengers, central locking system in the taxis to be disallowed.
  • Sharing of a seat in the cabs must be subject to the willingness of passengers.
  • Identification of driver along with the photo and the registration number should be prominently displayed in the cab.
  • Violation of stipulated rules and regulations by taxi operators and drivers to be strictly dealt in accordance with law.

Taxi Policy guidelines

Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) had constituted a committee to review issues relating to taxi permits and propose taxi policy guidelines to promote urban mobility. The committee comprised of the representatives from MoRTH, Transport Commissioners from four States and representatives from Central Pollution Control Board, Delhi Police, Ministry of Women and Child Development, NITI Aayog and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, submitted its report in December 2016. The policy is recommendatory in nature and is expected to help the states in framing detailed regulations.

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