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21% customs duty slapped on import of power fears; APP cries foul
July, 25th 2012

The government today decided to slap 21% duty on imports of power equipment, mainly to protect domestic companies from cheap Chinese shipments. "Cabinet has approved levying 21% import duty on power equipment sourced from overseas," sources said.

The Cabinet has approved 5% basic customs duty, 12% counter-veiling duty and 4% special additional duty on import of power gear. Earlier this month, the power ministry had floated a proposal seeking higher duty on import of equipment for the power sector.

The power ministry had proposed 5% basic custom duty, 10% counter-veiling duty and 4% special additional duty. Besides, with the recent hike in excise duty of 2%, the overall import duty would be 21%.
At present, equipment imported for projects of less than 1,000 MW capacity attract 5% customs duty, while those above that enjoy exemption. The proposal is aimed at providing a level-playing field to domestic manufacturers such as BHEL and Larsen & Toubro against cheap imports, especially from China.

However, private power generation companies expressed dissatisfaction.
 "It will increase the cost of power. The government has only gone by the protection of domestic equipment makers. They have not really addressed the concerns of private power generation companies," Association of Power Producers (APP) director General Ashok Khurana said.

Late last month, the Prime Minister's Office had directed the power ministry to prepare a fresh Cabinet note on the issue. In May, the Cabinet had deferred the proposal to raise the duty on imported power gear. The three ministries -- Power, Commerce and Industry and Heavy Industry -- had differences on the quantum of basic customs duty that can be slapped on power gear imports.

While the power ministry pitched for 5%customs duty, commerce and heavy industry ministries sought 15% and 10%, respectively. A panel headed by Planning Commission Member Arun Maira in its report had suggested imposition of 14% levy with a customs duty of 10%.

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