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What stakeholders are saying on CBEC’s 10% customs duty on 4G devices

The Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) has proposed a 10% basic customs duty along with additional duty and cess on 4G equipment and smartphones, reports MoneyControl. Officials told PTI that “final tax demand will be decided based on the decision taken on whether it is exempt under ITA (International Trade Agreement)”. Basic customs duty on 2G and 3G equipment are however exempt but will attract a “countervailing duty of around 12.75%”, the report added. The duty on 4G equipment imports comes at a time when the country is moving on to the GST tax regime. The new levies are yet to be finalised as the CBEC has not notified about this publicly on its site yet. But the additional levy has received mixed responses from stakeholders. Broadband India Forum (BIF), an association comprising of ISPs and tech companies (like Ericsson, Google, Huawei, Intel, Microsoft, Qualcomm, BSNL, Telenor, Facebook etc.) has pointed in a letter to Ministry of Electronics & IT (MeitY) that the levy is in violation of WTO’s Fair Trade Agreement (FTA) signed in 2011. MediaNama reviewed a copy of the letter. Telecom companies including Airtel, Vodafone and Idea did not comment on the issue when MediaNama enquired; Airtel added that it is in “complete compliance of all regulations and have already been paying the requisite duties/taxes as per the Govt. rules”. While Ambani-led Reliance Jio (which imports equipment for its LYF devices) said: "This is an industry-wide issue regarding the applicability of customs duties on import of…

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