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Customs duty imposed on telecom products not covered by Information Technology Act
July, 11th 2014

Basic customs duty at 10 per cent has been imposed on specified telecommunication products that are outside the purview of the Information Technology Agreement as part of an attempt to boost domestic production and reduce dependence on imports.

The Telecom Equipment Manufacturing Association (TEMA) is all smiles about this largesse from the finance minister. It states that it is likely to generate 500,000 jobs over the next three years.

TEMA chairman emeritus N.K. Goyal gives his perspective: " The Government signed ITA 1 on 25th March 1997 and committed import of duty free on 217 items. However, several items which were not covered under ITA 1, were also imported Duty Free. So, now this has been corrected by levy of import duty on non ITA-1 items. While ITA allowed import of finished product duty free, domestic manufacturers paid taxes on import of components used for making a complete unit which made indigenous production of electronic products expensive and wiped out almost entire hardware production in India. This budget gives a positive signal that while India will meet all its WTO commitments, it will also support domestic manufacturing. This will go in long way to promote indigenous manufacturing of telecom equipment."

Some of the telecom gear which will see an increase in production, TEMA, says are VoIP phones and some network equipment, which will be in high demand during the roll out of 4G services. It expects that the move will push industry production to around Rs 25,000 crore, while the requirement of 3G and 4G equipment is expected to be worth Rs 10,130 crore and 12,660 crore in 2015-16. On the whole it stated that the telcos will be pumping in close to Rs 5.21 lakh crore by 20120 to expand their networks.

Noting that the demand for electronics is growing very fast, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his proposals for 2014-15 announced that all inputs/components used in the manufacture of personal computers would be exempted from four per cent special additional duty (SAD). Education cess has been imposed on imported electronic products to provide parity between domestically produced goods and imported goods.

An exemption of four per cent SAD on PVC sheet and ribbon used for the manufacture of smart cards has also been proposed.

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