NEW DELHI: Indian agro companies are expecting government to levy duty rate on walnuts, pistachio and cashew on volume (specific rate of duty) instead of value percentage (ad-valorem duty), similar to the current duty structure on almonds. They say that the move was good as it would prevent the scope of under invoicing which was leading to revenue loss for the government and bring in transparency in trade.
“The trade expects commodities whose import is in huge quantity like walnut, cashews and pistachios to be levied duty on volume basis this year. The finance ministry will be taking the decision. This will bring transparency in trade, compliance, facilitate importer and ensure price parity pan India,” says Amit Lohani, convener of the Forum of Indian Food Importers (FIFI). Other major commodities from apples and lentils, pulses to oilseeds can also come in the ambit, says the trade.
The trade also want the government to annually evaluate the duty amount depending on global trade prices of the commodity. Currently, the basis duty rate imposed by the government on imported almonds in shell was Rs 35 a kg and Rs 65 a kg for almonds shelled while for walnuts in shell it was 30 per cent. Keith Sunderlal, an agribusiness marketing special from The SCS Group, says that the Indian importer will warmly welcome a specific duty over the current ad-valorem tariff structure. “This eliminates management of the product import and valuation process and lets the trade compete against each other purely on product quality and their marketing abilities,” he said.
The move will also prevent the scope of under invoicing which was leading to revenue loss to the government, says Tamanna Chaturvedi, assistant professor, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade. However, Chaturvedi says that it was a loss for companies who were under invoicing as they will have to pay larger duties. “To stop corruption, this measure was being under taken in developed countries for e.g. Korea for sesame seeds and USA for cheese etc,” she added.
The EU has fixed duty on rice imports at Euro 175 per tonne, informs Vijay Setia, president, All India Rice Exporter’s Association. “The percentage duty mechanism has all the porosity for cheating.To protect Indian industry and farmers all agro commodities from dry fruits, fresh fruits and fats should be charged fix duty on per tonne basis. Corruption at ports by custom officer can be taken care and government will get revenue,” he said.