As part of its overarching strategy to contain the widening current account deficit (CAD), the government, on Monday, announced its decision to ban the duty-free import of high-end flat screen (LCD/LED) plasma television sets with effect from August 26.
From Monday next week, such ‘non-essential’ imports will not be permitted duty free to air travellers as baggage allowance. Instead, these luxury entertainment commodities will attract a total levy of 36.05 per cent.
A notification to this effect tabled in Parliament by the Finance Ministry brings to an end a decade-old concession that air travellers had benefited from, particularly on purchases made from select countries in Southeast Asia. As per the notification, the Revenue Department amended the rules so as to “disallow import of flat panel (LCD/LED/Plasma) television as part of free baggage allowance.” In effect, come August 26, travellers bringing in LCD/LED/Plasma TV as part of baggage will have to pay customs duty at 35 per cent plus an education cess of three per cent to take the total import duty to 36.05 per cent.
It may be recalled that in a conscious bid to rein in the CAD, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram had indicated that apart from raising the duty on import of gold and other precious metals, such as silver and platinum, measures would have to be put in place to curb the import of non-essentials and other luxury goods.
The ban will come as a welcome relief to the domestic industry which has been witnessing a slack in demand. Lauding the step, the Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association said it would boost demand for domestically produced sets, especially when the local manufacturers had invested over Rs.1,500 crore in setting up facilities for flat panel TVs.