In their first Union Budget, after the roll-out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, made a calibrated departure from the underlying policy in the last two decades, wherein the trend largely was to reduce customs duty.
To further incentivise the domestic value addition and 'Make in India', the Finance Minister proposed to increase customs duty on mobile phones from 15 percent to 20 percent, on some of their parts and accessories to 15 percent and on certain parts of televisions to 15 percent.
"This measure will promote creation of more jobs in the country. This will make the domestic items cheaper than imported ones and will generate more demand which, in turn, will create more employment opportunities for the people at large," Jaitley said in the Budget presentation in Parliament.
He also acknowledged that there is substantial potential for domestic value addition in certain sectors, like food processing, electronics, auto components, footwear and furniture.
The Finance Minister thus proposed to reduce customs duty on raw cashew from five percent to 2.5 percent to help the cashew processing industry.
Further, with the aim of further improving 'Ease of Doing Business' in cross border trade, and to align certain provisions with the commitments under the Trade Facilitation Agreement, Jaitley announced certain changes to the Customs Act, 1962.
He added that to smoothen dispute resolution processes and to reduce litigation, these amendments are being made to provide for pre-notice consultation, definite timelines for adjudication and deemed closure of cases if those timelines are not adhered to.
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