New Delhi, January 27: With just five days remaining for the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to present the Union Budget 2020-21 in the parliament, reports are making the rounds that the government may consider restricting the purchase of tax-free alcohol to one bottle at duty-free shops. Also, prohibition on purchase of cigarette cartons at duty-free shops is on the cards. The possible move is being looked upon as an initiative to reduce import of over 300 non-essential goods and control the economic slowdown.
According to several media reports, one being the news agency PTI, the Finance Ministry had received a series of suggestion from different Union Ministries, state governments, corporate, economic experts and industrialists. The suggestion to restrict the purchase of tax-free alcohol to one bottle at duty-free shops and prohibit purchase of cigarette cartons at duty-free shops arrived from the commerce ministry. Union Budget 2020 Expectations: Here's What Jewellery, Auto, Travel, E-Commerce Sectors Expect From Nirmala Sitharaman's 'Bahi Khata'.
Looking at the present situation, inbound international passengers are allowed to buy two litres of alcohol and a carton of cigarettes from these shops. The Union Commerce Ministry is, however, mulling to restrict the purchase of alcohol to only one litre to international passengers. Apart from this, the Ministry is of the opinion to follow the international standards for cigarette purchase at duty-free shops to rein in trade deficit.
It is to be known that duty-free shops are those where an inbound international passenger can purchase goods worth about Rs 50,000 without paying any import duty. By curtailing the import of non-essential goods, the Union Ministry is eyeing to promote 'Make in India' and boost manufacturing growth. Union Budget 2020-21: Nirmala Sitharaman May Forgo 15% Corporate Cess on FPI, Cut in Tax Rates For Individual Taxpayers Under Consideration.
Also, suggestions to raise impost duty on several products like paper, footwear, rubber items and toys are being considered by the Union Finance Ministry. The Commerce Ministry's suggestion to raise import duty on over 300 items from different sectors are what being looked upon with positiveness, said finance ministry sources.
With Gross Domestic Product growth at a 26-quarters low at 4.5 percent and Indian economy struggling hard to make its voice heard in the international market, the suggestions to hike the import and custom duty by 10 percent is what the government might consider easily. However, these are just speculations, which will be cleared only on Budget Day on February 1, 2020.