Indigenous products to sail back at ITDC duty-free shops

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Indigenous products to sail back at ITDC duty-free shops

Indian products like tea and coffee suffered a setback as there was no surety over the billing of these items with the introduction of GST.

As an increasing number of duty free outlets cruise their way into seaports, retailers feel the pinch of missing indigenous products. A range of tribal handicraft items and assorted teas that had gone off the racks at these outlets over the past few months are set to make a comeback shortly as the India Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) takes the lead and sums up talks with the GST council seeking clarity on implementing the tax.

The ITDC currently has outlets at 11 seaports - Chennai, Kolkata, Haldia, New Mangalore, Goa, Vizag, Paradip, Mumbai, Kakinada, Krishnapatnam and Cochin - and are in different stages of discussions for two more outlets at Kandla and JNPT Mumbai port.

While GST was not imposed on liquor, leaving local and foreign manufacturers unhurt, a range of Indian handicrafts, and tea and coffee producers had to be taken off the shelves with no clarity on the billing of these items.

"Before GST, we had several Indian items, such as a range of handicrafts and tea and coffee brands, but these had to go off the shelves as there was no clarity on how the tax will be borne. We have sought clarification from the GST council and are in the final stages of resolving the issue. Indian handicrafts are very important to us and we will be able to restart their sale shortly," Vipin Garg, general manager, Ashok International Trade Division, ITDC, told Mail Today.

Nudged out of airports due to stiff competition from private players, the ITDC is slowly making a comeback with duty-free outlets at seaports.

"We have a mandate to be present at all the major seaports by 2020. Some shops are doing really well. Stores at ports like Paradip, Goa, New Mangalore and Cochin that have cruiseliners, are doing brisk business. Chennai too is a promising location and once the cruiseliners come in, we expect a bigger turnover," Garg explained.

"The target for 2017 is around Rs 15.36 crore, of which, we hope to make an approximate profit of Rs 2.5 crore. Last year, we achieved a turnover of more than Rs 18 crore, including one airport shop."

Grappling with space constraints, the ITDC has trimmed its inventory to suit captains and their crew. "With limited space, we cannot keep a very big inventory. Our priority is that the products should be meaningful for the captain and crew," he added.