Television

STB duties: finance ministry won't budge

MUMBAI / NEW DELHI: After a "disappointing" budget, the Consumer Electronics Traders and Manufacturers Association (CETMA), the apex body of electronics goods manufacturers in India, had to listen to more bad news today

A meeting among CETMA, information & broadcasting ministry officials and finance ministry officials ended today with the it being firmly conveyed that there would be no reduction in duties on set top boxes, as was being sought by the electronics manufacturers.

"At the moment it looks that STBs will have to be imported with 51 per cent duty (25 per cent basic customs duty, 15 per cent countervailing duty and 4 per cent additional taxes), CETMA's Suresh Khanna told indiantelevision this evening, sounding dejected.

According to Khanna in the initial phase of conditional access rollout, the whole set top box would have to be imported. It would only be later when demand picked up that semi-knock down kits and finally completely knocked down kits could be manufactured, Khanna said.

Khanna had said immediately after finance minister Jaswant Singh presented his budget that CETMA would be petitioning the I&B ministry as also the finance ministry "at the first available opportunity" to push for review of the government (in)decision on STBs, especially at a time when the government is pushing aggressively the implementation of conditional access system.

The manufacturers had been hoping that the budget would see basic customs duty on set top boxes being reduced to 10 per cent but that was not to be.

CETMA had also asked for zero per cent excise duty on finished goods and components like RF modulators and the Network Interface Module.

They had also demanded that sales tax be kept at four per cent, preventing fly by night operators and gray market from affecting legitimate sales of the Indian manufacturer. The association also wants a lead time of 90 days from the date of commercially clear purchase order for the delivery of the STBs.

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