Seafood Exporters seek extension of DEPB Scheme

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Kochi, Mar 14 (UNI) Alerting the government that Indian seafood exports have dropped by 20 per cent in Rupee terms, the Seafood Exporters Association of India has urged the Centre to extend the DEPB Scheme beyond March 31, 2008.

According to a press release here a high-level delegation of the Seafood Exporters Association of India met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi yesterday and stressed that the extension of the Duty Entitlement Passbook (DEPB) Scheme was critical to the industry.

The delegation also stressed the need to increase the DEPB rates by an additional five per cent, extension of focus product benefit to all marine products and doubling of this benefit.

In a memorandum handed over to Dr Singh, the delegation also sought transferability of target plus licenses issued, removal of service tax, support on freight costs and additional supports under the Foreign Trade Policy.

The Prime Minister informed the delegation that the matter would be forwarded to the ministries concerned for required action immediately.

The three-member team consisted of Association President Anwar Hashim, secretary general Elias Sait, and Kerala region president K G Lawrance. Accompanying them were Dr K S Manoj, MP, and former Kerala fisheries and tourism minister K V Thomas, MLA.

The delegation informed the Prime Minister that the fisheries sector was facing the biggest crisis in its history, caused by the strengthening of the rupee by more than 15 per cent, the increase of fuel price by more than 80 per cent, the anti-dumping duty levied by the US and the over supply of shrimps of the Vanammae species of Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and others at prices which were 25-30 per cent lower than black tiger shrimp cultured in India.

It pointed out that Indian seafood exports had dropped by 20 per cent in rupee value and could drop by 50 per cent to US$ one billion in the coming year.

The delegation also suggested elimination of local levies of excise and sales tax on diesel for fishing, provision of alternate sources of livelihood for fishermen through providing land and finance for cage culture and encouraging culture of Vanammae shrimp along with black tiger.

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