The government on Thursday tweaked the cumbersome licensing norms to import IT hardware products like laptops and computers and put in place an online authorisation system for importers of these goods.
The new licensing or authorisation regime, which will come into operation with immediate effect, is primarily aimed at monitoring imports of these products to ensure that they are coming from "trusted" sources, Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) Santosh Kumar Saranagi told reporters here.
After taking into account the concerns of stakeholders of the sector, some "tweaking" in the policy has been made, and an end-to-end online system was launched for importers, he added.
The system, he said, will ensure that it will be faceless and contactless, and there will be no hassles for importers to fill in their details.
The announcement assumes significance as the government announced on August 4 that an importer would need a license for the import of these goods from November 1, with a view to boosting domestic manufacturing and cutting imports from countries like China.
The new license regime is applicable to laptops, personal computers (including tablet computers), microcomputers, large or mainframe computers, and certain data processing machines to ensure India's trusted supply chain.
The DGFT also said that an importer can apply from now onwards on the system to seek authorisation for imports, and there would not be any restriction on quantity, value or country.
The Department of Revenue is also involved in the preparation of the new system and the entire application process will take about 10 minutes, and the simple license will be issued in an automated manner.
Companies in the "denied entity list" will not get the authorisations. Such lists include firms which have not fulfilled or defaulted export obligations by availing benefits of schemes like advance authorisation and Export Promotion Capital Goods (EPCG); or having DRI (Directorate of Revenue Intelligence) cases against them, Saranagi said.
Companies willing to import second-hand goods or refurbished items would also not be allowed to apply for this authorisation as for those imports, the standard operating procedure is different.
Though an online system has been put in place, these IT hardware products are still "under the restricted" category and "there is no change in that", Sarangi said.
Speaking at the media briefing, Secretary of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology S Krishnan said that the new mechanism was launched after holding an extensive consultation with the industry.
The aim of the exercise is to promote domestic manufacturing of electronic goods, he said, adding there is no shortage of these goods in the country and in fact, more production will help in cutting down the prices.
Applications for several companies have been approved under the production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for large-scale electronic manufacturing.
The import authorisation will remain valid till September 2024.
On the post-September 2024 scenarios, Krishnan said the government will study the data, interact with the industry, and then, decide on ways to move forward.
When asked whether the government will withdraw the August notification, the DGFT said it will not be withdrawn, and a clarification has been issued to give effect to the new online authorisation system for these imports.
Sarangi also clarified that importers would not be required to register with them to seek authorisation.