The government will soon take a decision on permitting offices engaged in the export and import documentation and clearance processes to function round-the-clock, Commerce Secretary S. R. Rao said here on Friday.

Interacting with presspersons after an open house meet, organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), he said the move was part of the measures identified by the Ministry to help trade cut down on the transaction costs.

The government, as part of its endeavour and commitment to make exports more competitive, had announced several initiatives recently. Notable among them was the proposed partnership with all banks for electronic transmission of all documents. During the course, it was found that certain government agencies work only during the office time.

Other stakeholders in the private sector such as Customs agents and handling agents also need to work round-the-clock.

The government is seriously thinking of how best the problem could be addressed, Mr. Rao said, adding there already had been some amount of agreement in the government on allowing the relevant offices to function 24/7.

On the issue of trade with Pakistan, Mr. Rao said a meeting of commerce secretaries of both the countries is to be held in August or September.

Chief Commissioner of Customs Mala Srivatsav said in certain critical areas Customs was already operating the offices rounEd-the-clock. Scaling up of the operations was possible, but that would entail three times more staff, she said.

Director-General of Foreign Trade Anup K. Pujari said after August 16 there shall be no manual transmission of e-BRC (bank export and realisation certificate) and banks should come forward to get their facilities tested to be ready by that.

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