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Thursday, October 02 1997

DGFT offices thrown out of gear as officers go on leave

Our Bureau

October 1: Indian Trade Service officers all over the country took a two-day mass casual leave on September 30 and October 1, to protest against the deputation of other civil service officers in the trade related areas.

The 150-odd ITS officers also want an immediate review of their cadre and deployment of ITS officers in Indian embassies for trade activities.

ITS officers of the directorate-general of foreign trade in Calcutta said that the government is not paying heed to the recommendations of the Abid Hussain Committee, Mathur Committee or the fifth pay commission advising against deputation of officers from other cadres.

"All these reports have categorically advised the government to stop deputation of officers from one department to other and foreign trade sector also falls within the ambit," sources said.

At present, in every administrative department of the Union government, the ratio of deputed officers to own-cadre officers is 1:3. In the DGFT and ministry of commerce, the domain of ITS officers, about 50 of the total staff of 200 are working on deputation from other cadres.

ITS sources also said that the cadre has not been reviewed for over 10 years, which has resulted in virtual stagnation of the officers' careers.

"An officer is supposed to get two promotions within nine years of service and they are getting it but with the cadre not being reviewed for so many years, there has been a stagnation. Good service is not fetching the results for them. However, the picture is not same for other cadres," sources said.

They have also demanded that trade officers required by the Indian embassies should be recruited from the ITS cadre only.

"According to the present trend, officers from the Indian Foreign Service are deployed for the trade related activities in the Indian embassies. This practice must be stopped and the ITS officers must be given an opportunity to work in these embassies," sources said.

ITS officers have already submitted their charter of demands to the Union commerce minister and the secretary.

With the DGFT offices thrown out of gear, all trade related activities have came to a halt. No licences are been issued.

Exporters said that on an average import licences worth Rs 200 crore are issued daily. So a two-day strike means a loss of around Rs 400 crore.

The Federation of Indian Export Organisations have strongly protested against this wild cat strike.

An Federation of Indian Export Organisation officer said: "When the government is trying all out to increase its exports, this sort of agitation by the government employees is least expected because it projects a bad image of the country in the international market."

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