Government eases rules to help supply chain

NEW DELHI: On Friday, with repeated complaints about the issuance of passes, the government relaxed the rules as part of its latest set of efforts to supply goods and services during the coronavirus-induced blockade.

In a notice to the states, the Secretary of the Interior, Ajay Bhalla, clarified that the private laboratories have been exempt from the closure and asked the main secretaries to guarantee that the movement of laboratory technicians and the transportation of samples, along with the opening of temporary collection centers, do not face any obstacles. The move will benefit a large number of private laboratories, which have also been cordoned off for tests related to the coronavirus.

While refusing to publish an elaborate list of food and groceries, the Center has advised states to interpret it in a way that includes products consumed daily.

The pass rule has been made available to help businesses that have a national, as they have repeatedly complained about difficulties obtaining them at the district level. Bhalla noted the concern in his communication to the states.

As a result, Union states and territories have been advised to issue letters of authorization to companies with national supply chains for essential goods, allowing them to issue regional passes to facilitate the movement of staff and workers. However, the Center said that the number of such passes should be kept to a minimum.

The move will be beneficial to entities operating in states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Punjab to aid the movement of essential elements.

Similarly, designated authorities at railways, ports, and airports may have permission from states and UTs to issue passes for critical staff members and contractual labor force engaged in loading and unloading merchandise. Again, the home secretary noted that this was being proposed due to problems obtaining passes.

A third change was to facilitate the interstate movement of goods by road. The Center noted that trucks faced difficulties on their return journey after unloading goods, as they were often detained by local authorities and police during closure. To overcome this problem, truck drivers must present the electronic invoice issued by GST Network, or the invoice to facilitate the passage.

The rule change follows industry consultations with trade and industry minister Piyush Goyal earlier this week, as well as discussions that the industry promotion department and internal trade secretary Guruprasad Mohapatra had last week.