Consumer appliance makers seek lower GST on largescreen TVs, air-conditioners, refrigerators

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Consumer electronic goods makers have sought lowering the GST rate to 12 percent on appliances like large-screen televisions, air-conditioners and refrigerators, in their Budget wish list to the government. The consumer durables industry is of the view that these items are now household necessities and do not come under the luxury goods category anymore. Companies such as Sony India and Panasonic feel that there is a need to boost demand in the consumer appliances sector and lower taxes can help manufacturers pass on the benefits to buyers. Besides, these firms are seeking exemption of basic customs duty on imported TV panels that are assembled here in India to give a necessary push to the market. “I am really hoping that the government does something. It is in our wish list,” Sony India Managing Director Sunil Nayyar told when asked if the company was hopeful of reduced GST rates on big-screen television sets.

He further said that lower GST rates will ultimately help the government increase its revenue as more and more people will tend to buy such goods. “It’s a win-win. It’s up to them as how they structure this discussion and come to an appropriate thought process. We are expecting and hopeful. Let’s see.” Echoing similar views, Manish Sharma, president and CEO, Panasonic India and South Asia, said the goods and services tax (GST) slabs for large appliances and electronics items must be reduced. “Our expectation from the Union Budget 2019 is to see reforms that drive consumption and improve consumer demand. The consumer appliances industry witnessed a flat growth last year, and we urge the government to bring in positive policies to lend support and drive growth in the sector,” he said. Sharma further said that appliances such as TVs, refrigerators and air conditioners have evolved from being luxury items to household necessities, and it is important to create affordability to drive consumers demand.

Reducing GST rates for TVs above 32 inches to 18 percent will not only benefit the industry but also the end-consumers, he added. At present, the GST on TVs with a screen size above 32 inches attract 28 percent GST while it is 18 percent on those with size of 32 inches and below. Also, Sharma sought exemption of basic customs duty on imported television panels “to give the necessary thrust to the market. “Similarly, we urge the government to lower GST rates for efficient products like air conditioners and refrigerators with a rating of 4 star and above, bringing them under the 12 per slab,” he added. Earlier, industry body Consumer Electronics and Appliances Manufacturers Association (CEAMA) had also asked the government to reduce GST rate on air-conditioners from 28 percent to 18 percent and had advocated development of component ecosystem to promote local manufacturing. “The industry has witnessed low to no growth in the last three years. Indeed, TV, AC, and Microwaves declines in 2018. Revival of growth, therefore, is the biggest ask that industry has from government,” had said President CEAMA and Business Head and EVP, Godrej Appliance Kamal Nandi.

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