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Indians call flat-screen TV import duty ‘useless’
August 21, 2013, 11:13 am

Sethu bought a 32-inch LED television worth more than KD 95.000 last week to take to India ahead of his vacation home early next month.

But a Government of India decision to impose a 35 per cent customs duty on flat-screen TVs has posed a problem.

“I cannot pay that much customs duty and I don’t know what to do with this TV because we already have one at our home in Kuwait,” the 44-year-oldsaid

India will impose the new import duty from August 26 to prop up the weak rupee. Mohan said such rules should not be implemented at such short notice.

“The government should have given at least two to three months’ notice before implementing such rules,” he said. He doubted the electronics dealers’ lobby in India had influenced the government to impose the duty.

Roy Mathew, 45, a designer, is also in a similar situation. He bought a 40-inch television worth more than KD 240.000  recently so he could take it home when he goes on vacation. He bought it in advance when there was an offer.

“But I won’t take it to India if the new import duty is in place. If it is not withdrawn before my vacation, I will use it at home here,” Mathew said.

Other Indian expatriates spoken to also said people will stop buying televisions from Kuwait because of the ruling.

Dheeraj Shetty, 36, a health and safety manager, said even if somebody takes a television to India, it may not benefit the government. A corrupt customs officials could take a bribe to avoid the import duty, he said.

Echoing the same opinion, Aslam Khan, 40, a public relations officer, who has been working in Kuwait for around 20 years, said this new regulation will not help the weakened rupee. He said the government should take other concrete measures to save the rupee. He has taken two flat-screen televisions to India in the past.

Mohammad Rafeeq, 35, a sales executive, also said expatriates will stop buying TVs from here.

“I have taken a 47-inch television to India and sent a 42-inch one for my friend last week. But no more.”

The Indian rupee has weakened due to mismanagement on the part of the political class, he said.

“Expatriates are paying the price for it in the form of this customs duty,” Rafeeq said.

V. V. Navas, 33, an engineer, had taken three flat-screen TVs to India for his family members in the past. “Now I will not,” he said.

“All expatriates will think like this and it will end up as a useless regulation,” Navas said.

Earlier, Non-resident Indians (NRIs) could carry one flat TV (plasma/LED/LCD) for personal use, worth up to Rs35,000 (KD 156) as part of their baggage allowance, without paying any customs duty.

NRIs remitted more than $70 billion (KD  20 billion) to India last financial year. The foreign currency-starved India government is planning to raise foreign currency bonds from NRIs to overcome the crisis.

Instead of encouraging such NRIs, the Government of India is punishing them by imposing duty on gifts such as flat-screen televisions. Those who are carrying a TV, would have remitted millions of rupees in previous years.

As a courtesy to them the Government of India should permit NRIs to take flat-screen televisions, it said.


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