Extra excise on large cars may go; separate package on cards

Updated: Dec 30 2008, 05:54am hrs
The government is likely to remove an additional excise duty of Rs 10,000-20,000 on large cars and sports-utility vehicles as part of the package for the automobile industry which is facing downturn in sales for want of cheap retail credit.

The additional duty was imposed in June this year. Heavy industry minister Santosh Mohan Dev who met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday said removal of additional excise duty was one of the major demands of the industry.This will go. I am sure, PM will consider this, Dev said.

The minister indicated that sops for the automobile industry may come separately and not as a part of the second stimulus package to be unveiled in the next few days. The government had put extra excise duty on large cars, sports-utility and multi-utility vehicles in an effort to promote fuel-efficient small cars. The heavy industry ministry is backing the automobile manufacturers in their demand for removal of restriction on steel and steel prducts import and the five per cent customs duty on non-alloy steel imposed in November.

The steel industry, facing import surge, is seeking increase of 10% in customs duty. Dev, however, opposed the demand of the steel-makers. Let them (demand) but that does not mean it should be done at the expense of automobile industry.

Seeking export incentives for the car-makers, Dev hoped the interest rates for vehicle financing would be brought down. He (PM) positively told (me) he would speak to the RBI governor, the minister said. The industry reported about 18% decline in sales in November.