The Union government will soon issue a notification raising the import duty on rubber from Rs.20 to Rs.34 a kg and take steps to provide five per cent benefit to coconut oil and coconut oil-related products, Union Minister of Commerce, Industry, and Textiles Anand Sharma has said.

Addressing the media after a conference of south Indian Industries Ministers and a one-to-one with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to discuss industry and plantati on-related issues at Kovalam on Friday, Mr. Sharma said the decision to increase the import duty on rubber was taken in view of the volatility of rubber prices and the pressure from the State. On the decision to extend the benefit to coconut oil and coconut oil-related products, the Commerce Minister said it would be an export incentive and the five per cent script could be redeemed against excise duty or service tax.

Mr. Sharma made it clear that the State would not have to acquire 5,200 hectares at a stretch for the proposed industrial corridor from Kochi to Palakkad. As land acquisition was a problem in Kerala, the Union Minister said a new vertical expansion with cluster development that would offer all the benefits envisaged under the National Manufacturing and Investment Zones would be worked out. The Union Minister said the decision to do away with the land requirement for IT SEZs would give a boost to the IT sector.

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