(Photo: HT)
(Photo: HT)

Opinion | No more duty-free double vision

On 1 February, our Union Budget might reduce the duty-free quota of incoming passengers to a solitary bottle of booze

As every scholar of Tintin comics would know, seeing double is a drag on productivity. The phenomenon, traced to the affluence of incohol, is observed to have impaired the skills of detectives as accomplished as Thompson and Thomson, the twins, and India would do well to act against the menace. An obvious measure to safeguard us from double-vision is to restrict the duty-free allowance of anyone who flies in from abroad to a single 1-litre bottle, rather than two. There is data to back this assertion up. An on-the-spot sobriety survey has revealed that most single-bottle drinkers report seeing everything—and often everybody—as resolutely single.

Thankfully, action may soon be taken. On 1 February, our Union Budget might reduce the duty-free quota of incoming passengers to a solitary bottle of booze. Just a few days ago, the Association of Private Airport Operators, a lobby group keen on higher revenues at duty-free shops, had reportedly tried to lobby the Centre to double the existing limit of two to four litres. It argued that matching Singapore and Dubai on this count would get air travellers to buy their stock in India rather than those airports, and thus help us retain the glow of our international terminals. But such double trouble has been avoided. On a nudge from the Commerce Ministry, which has being glowering at non-essential imports, the limit is now likely to be halved.

On a rough estimate, almost $200 million worth of alcohol would be sold at duty-free shops in India this fiscal year. Next year’s target should be $100 million. If the figure threatens to double again in a few years, further action could be taken.

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