New Delhi: With an aim to curb rising domestic cement prices, the government on 3 April 2007 abolished all duties on import of portland cement and said it is open to reviewing dual excise structure announced in the Union Budget.
The existing 16% cent countervailing duty and 4% additional customs duty on portland cement have been removed with immediate effect, Central Board of Excise and Customs spokesperson Hemambika Priya told reporters.
The government had in January exempted portland cement (other than white cement) from basic customs duty of 12.5% cent. With today’s measure, import of portland cement is made completely duty-free.
The CBEC spokesperson denied that the government move was aimed at pressurising cement makers to moderate prices. It did not mean that the government would not have a rethink on dual excise structure in cement announced in the Budget, she said.
“We are not putting any pressure (on cement makers). The government is open to revisit the dual excise duty structure,” she said.
Meanwhile, an official statement said the government has already invited cement manufacturers to come forward with proposals to moderate prices.
“Government expects that the cement manufacturers, in the larger interest of consumers and for checking inflation, will take appropriate measures for moderating prices,” the statement said.
With imports of cement made duty free, moderation in cement prices will depend on the increase of imports.