Cigarettes, radio taxis, and imported electronic products, among other items, are set to become expensive. The government increased the excise duty on cigarettes between 11-72 per cent while increasing it on pan masala, unmanufactured tobacco, gutkha and chewing tobacco as well. It also imposed service tax on radio-taxis, online and mobile advertising, services by air-conditioned contract carriages and technical testing of newly-developed drugs on human participants, exempt so far, making them dearer now.
In the Budget 2014-15, finance minister Arun Jaitley said, “Excise duty is being increased from 12 per cent to 16 per cent on pan masala, from 50 per cent to 55 per cent on unmanufactured tobacco and from 60 per cent to 70 per cent on gutkha and chewing tobacco. I also propose to levy an additional duty of excise at 5 per cent on aerated waters containing added sugar. These are healthy measures and I hope everyone would welcome them from the point of view of human and fiscal health.”
These tax proposals are estimated to yield Rs 7,525 crore to the exchequer.
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The government also increased the free baggage allowance from Rs 35,000 to Rs 45,000. The allowance was last revised in 2012. Attempting to boost trade, the government has proposed to roll out single window project for customs clearance while extending 24X7 facility to 13 more airports and 14 more sea ports.
Further, on the proposed new indirect tax regime, Jaitley said that the debate on Goods and Services Tax (GST) needs to come to an end now. “We have discussed the issue for the past many years. Some states have been apprehensive about surrendering their taxation jurisdiction; others want to be adequately compensated. I have discussed the matter with the states, both individually and collectively. I do hope we are able to find a solution in the course of this year and approve the legislative scheme which enables the introduction of GST,” the finance minister said.