Ahead of the upcoming general election, finance minister P Chidambaram on Monday sought to lighten the burden on the middle class by lowering excise duty on cars, SUVs and two-wheelers and proposed no increase in taxes on other products.
"To give relief to the automobile industry which is registering unprecedented negative growth, I propose to reduce excise duty..," Chidambaram said while presenting the interim budget for 2014-15.
As per his proposal, excise duty on small cars, motorcycles, scooters and commercial vehicles has been cut to 8 per cent from 12 per cent earlier.
Likewise, the sports utility vehicles will attract 24 per cent excise duty, down from 30 per cent earlier, while large cars that used to attract excise of 27 per cent will now be levied only 24 per cent.
Moreover, the excise duty on mid-sized cars will be 20 per cent from 24 per cent earlier.
While giving sops to the automobile sector, Chidambaram said: "I propose to make appropriate reductions in excise duty on chassis and trailers."
Mobile phones manufactured in India could also see price moderation with the finance minister announcing a proposal to boost domestic manufacturing. However, a majority of mobile phones sold in India, even by domestic firms like Micromax, Lava and Karbonn, are imported.
However, Samsung and Nokia have manufacturing facilities in the country and the excise duty rejig may lower their cost of production.
"To encourage domestic production of mobile phones, which has declined, and reduce the dependence on imports, which have increased, I propose to restructure the excise duties for all categories of mobile phones. The rates will be 6 per cent with CENVAT credit or one per cent without CENVAT credit," he said.
Another daily use item, soaps that are manufactured in India can also witness a softening of prices.
Chidambaram rationalized customs duty structure on non-edible grade industrial oil and its fractions, fatty acids and fatty alcohols at 7.5 per cent.
Rice can also be expected to be cheaper with the finance minister exempting service tax on loading, unloading, packing, storage and warehousing of the commodity.
People looking to store umbilical cord blood for future use can now be expected incur lower expense with the service tax of 12 per cent on cord blood banks being withdrawn.
"Ministry of health and family welfare has requested that services provided by cord blood banks are also healthcare services and should be exempt from service tax. I propose to accept the request," Chidambaram said.