The Commerce and Industry Ministry is urging the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for visa norms relaxation in India holistically to encourage the services trade. The proposal was discussed between Rita Teaotia, Commerce Secretary, and the officials of other ministries at the PMO on 7th June.
A Commerce Ministry official was quoted as saying that they wanted visa norms to be eased for sectors such as tourism, healthcare, business, and groups of people attending seminars, conferences and business. A note is to be sent to the Home Ministry as the above sectors falls under its purview, the official added. Another Commerce Ministry official is reported to have said that India was losing out on a major opportunity worth about $80 billion per year as far as luring foreign travellers and foreign exchange was concerned. India lags far behind small countries such as Thailand, which sees millions of tourists each year.
The ministry also said that to succeed in the objectives of top government programmes, including Make in India and Digital India, it was necessary to have a seamless visa regime. The official emphasized the need for investments in technologies that have allowed countries like Indonesia to ease their visa norms and launch modern systems to reduce the time taken to process visas.
Although the services sector accounts for around 60 percent of India’s GDP, its share in services exports stands at just 3.15 percent.