The Union Home Ministry has directed all CAPFs or paramilitary forces to shun foreign brands and introduce ''swadeshi'' goods, including food items, household goods and clothing, in their canteens and offices, officials said on Thursday.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has also decided to enhance the monetary grant to the countrywide network of over 1,700 Central Police Canteens (CPCs) as it has turned down the plea of these forces and paramilitary veterans who were seeking an exemption under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for these stores.
An official order by the ministry said ''swadeshi'' should be made available in these canteens, food items, clothes and accoutrements for khaki and combat uniform, bed sheets, towels, curtains, stationery and all other miscellaneous items.
While new procurement of these items should be ''swadeshi'' or countrymade, the order said, existing items should be replaced with the same when they are due for replacement.
"The order is aimed to boost the income and status of local producers of these goods. This is to promote indigenous products and industry. These forces are about 10 lakh personnel strong at present and they procure canteen items and goods worth crores of rupees annually," a senior official said.
The ministry has also directed that instead of seeking rebate on GST for the CPCs -- that stock groceries, fast moving consumer goods and household essentials for purchase by troops -- the Union government will "compensate the CPCs through budgetary support to that extent", the official said.
The defence canteens (canteen stores department) of army, navy and the air force enjoy exemption under the GST.
These forces and CAPF veterans have been demanding GST exemption for these CPCs so that the personnel working in very hard duty areas and inhospitable terrain like borders and Naxal-affected areas can procure household items at nominal rates and the new arrangement devised by the MHA will ensure that the rates and stocks remain satisfactory as in the past, he said.
The CPCs were established in 2006 and as per latest data of 2016-17, their annual turnover was Rs 1,607 crore.
There are over 119 master canteens and 1,625 subsidiary canteens at various locations where these forces are deployed, be it along borders or the interiors of Naxal violence-hit or insurgency affected states.
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