New Delhi: Concerned over what he called “dumping” by Chinese power equipment makers, heavy industry minister Vilas Rao Deshmukh has sought imposition of import duty on such products in the upcoming Budget.
“I met finance minister Pranab Mukherjee (last week) and discussed the issue,” he told the agency.
Stating that he had nothing against Chinese equipment, Deshmukh said “they (manufacturers) are very welcome to come to India to set up their manufacturing plants. They can then compete here.”
The minister was responding to queries about the demand from state-owned power equipment major Bhel whose CMD K Ravi Kumar is reported to have complained about “dumping”. For more than a year, the corporation is complaining about the cheaper Chinese equipment imports.
Bhel, in its Budget wishlist that it submitted to heavy industry ministry, demanded last week that an uniform 10% import duty be imposed on power equipment.
Deshmukh said that he has endorsed the suggestion of Bhel to the finance minister.
“... the proposal was duly examined by the ministry and have already sent it to the finance ministry,” he added.
The Economic Survey for 2008-09 has also highlighted the surge in imports from capital goods from China.
”Of particular concern is the zero-duty imports, relating to import of power generation equipment,“ the Economic Survey which was tabled in Parliament on Thursday said.
The import of capital goods from China rose from Rs5,120 crore in 2002-03 to Rs54,000 crore in 2007-08. China’s share in India’s total import of capital goods jumped to 50% in 2007-08 from 38% in 2006-07, it said.
Earlier, Deshmukh has said that there was no concrete proposal yet to divest equity in Bhel.
“The issue has to be decided by the disinvestment department in the finance ministry. Neither have they raised the issue with us nor have we talked to them,” he said when asked when his ministry would go ahead with proposed disinvestment of up to 10% equity in the blue-chip company, where government now has 67% equity.
Asked if the government could consider issuance of fresh equity instead of selling its existing holding, he said this is one issue where Bhel board would also be taken into confidence.
“Once we have something from the finance ministry, then we will refer this to Bhel board for its view. We will consider whatever they have to say,” he said.