Source: Business Standard, Sept 25, 2018
New Delhi: The Central government is likely to increase import duties on precious stones, certain types of steel and electronics but will spare gold to prevent smuggling, a finance ministry official said on Monday. The official, who declined to be named, told reporters the main reason for the planned increase in duties is to curb an inflow of items that normally move between China and the US, but could be redirected because of the tariffs imposed by the two countries. The government is also trying to curb imports of “non-essential” items to support the rupee, Asia’s worst performing currency, and considering cutting oil import. The rupee has fallen around 12 per cent this year, forcing the government to scramble for steps to arrest the fall. News agency NewsRise reported on Monday that the finance ministry was considering a proposal to float a special gold deposit programme to cut imports of the metal by recycling the metal inside the country. India is the world’s second-biggest gold buyer, after China, and spent $3.64 billion on such imports last month. The steel ministry has proposed increasing the effective import duty on some steel products to 15 per cent from current rates ranging from 5 per cent to 12.5 per cent. Among other steps being considered to soften the blow from high crude oil prices and declining rupee is cutting oil purchases, said Indian Oil Corp (IOC) Chairman Sanjiv Singh. State refiners are looking at optimising crude oil inventory levels without in any way affecting fuel supplies in the domestic market, he told PTI on Monday.