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Withholding tax on biotech sector needs review
February, 27th 2008

For the Indian biotech sector to flourish it is important that Indian companies enter into collaborative research programmes and import/licence platform technologies, thereby permitting Indian companies to expand their existing skill base and shorten timelines from research to commercialisation. The existing requirement for withholding tax for technology transfer results in increased cost of import of technology. For Indian companies to acquire more technology, it is recom mended that import of technology by the biotech sector be exempt from withholding tax for a period up to 2010.

The biotechnology sector is capital -intensive necessitating investment in expensive R&D infrastructure. If India is to realise the full potential of its scientific skill base at a commercial level, it is imperative to adopt all measures that reduce the capital cost of R&D. Currently, R&D equipment by DSIR-recognised Research Laboratories are exempt from customs duty. It is recommended that this list be expanded to cover additional items.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, CMD, Biocon Ltd

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