More goods to come under quality control orders in Make-in-India step

QCOs are part of India's broader efforts to enhance its manufacturing sector's standards, especially as it seeks to finalize free trade agreements. (Image: Pixabay)
QCOs are part of India's broader efforts to enhance its manufacturing sector's standards, especially as it seeks to finalize free trade agreements. (Image: Pixabay)

Summary

  • The notified QCOs are not applicable to goods meant for export. But this clause may be reviewed in the future

New Delhi: The Union government plans to introduce 14 quality control orders (QCOs) covering 129 new products by the end of the year, two people aware of the matter said, in a move aimed at making India-made products more competitive globally.

The move comes as India negotiates free trade agreements (FTAs) with several countries. These deals will ultimately lower import duties on manufactured items, which requires India to be on guard against imports of substandard goods into the country.

BIS standards apply to products manufactured in India that are meant for domestic supply, and imports, whereas products for exports adhere to global standards.

The notified QCOs are not applicable to goods meant for export. But this clause may be reviewed in the future, the people cited above said.

They said some countries already accept BIS-certified products and that with manufacturing standards keeping to QCO orders, more countries may start recognizing BIS-certified goods.

The purpose of bringing QCOs is to ensure that domestic consumers get quality products, whether India- or foreign-made, the second person said. The government is in consultation to bring in 14 QCOs that will cover 129 more products covered by the central ministries of steel, mines, textiles, commerce, animal husbandry, labour, petroleum, heavy industries, and women and child development.

The decision is at the consideration stage and may soon be put on the websites of the concerned ministries as well as the World Trade Organization (WTO) portal for comments. The new products that will come under QCOs include consumer durables, ceramic tiles and plastic products. The government has already published draft orders for 77 QCOs covering 317 products on the WTO website for stakeholders’ comments. After receiving the comments, the government will evaluate them and if needed a stakeholder consultation will be done prior to the final notification of QCOs, one of the people said.

QCOs are issued by different line ministries and standards of products are prepared by the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS), an arm of the ministry of consumer affairs.

As of now, 156 QCOs have been issued for 672 products.

After a QCO is notified, no firm can manufacture, import, distribute, sell, hire, lease, store or exhibit any product covered under the QCO without an ISI standard mark.

Violations can attract jail terms and fines.

Sudhanshu Rai, a scientist at BIS, said, “The BIS certification scheme is basically voluntary. However, for a number of products, compliance with Indian standards is made compulsory for reasons of public interest, protection of human, animal or plant health, safety of environment, prevention of unfair trade practices and national security."

Queries sent to the consumer affairs ministry remained unanswered till press time.

QCOs are legally binding. According to Manish K Shubhay, partner, The Precept-Law Offices, once a QCO is operational, manufacturing, importing, storing, and selling non-BIS compliant products becomes an offence with the first contravention punishable by two-years of imprisonment or a fine of 2 lakh.

“QCOs are issued in the interest of consumers, so that end-users should get a quality product and manufacturers should comply with prescribed standards. QCOs would prevent the sale of substandard or potentially harmful goods. Additionally, compliance with QCOs enhances transparency in product information, allowing consumers to make informed choices," Shubhay, a lawyer at the Supreme Court, said.

“The QCOs aim to improve the manufacturing quality standards and enhance the quality ecosystem in India. Secondly, the enforcement of mandatory compliance and the consequences for non-compliance (such as fines or imprisonment) promote accountability among manufacturers and importers," said Deepa Seshadri, partner, Deloitte India.

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