In order to safeguard interests of farmers, the industry body Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) has called for significant increase in import duty of fruit and vegetable pulps and concentrates. The CII in its Pre-Budget Memorandum has said, "Customs Duty on import of fruit/vegetable pulps and concentrates should be enhanced substantially to levels prevailing for commodities such as coffee (100 per cent), tea (100 per cent), garlic (100 per cent), rice (80 per cent), millets (70 per cent) etc."
The need for protecting the interests of our apple and orange growers is even more paramount. Even though the customs duty rates on import of these fruits is higher (apple at 75 per cent and orange at 40 per cent), farmers still continue to suffer since the beverage industry prefers to import these fruits in concentrate form as concentrates can be imported at lower rates (apple concentrate at 50 per cent and orange concentrate at 35 per cent), CII said in its Pre-Budget memorandum.
"The importers are thereby benefitting not only from the lower customs duty, but also by incurring lower freight costs by way of importing the fruits in concentrate form rather than import of whole fruit," CII added.
Duty on import of fruit and vegetable pulp and concentrates be enhanced to at least 3 times the duty rate applicable for the respective fruits, CII demanded in its Pre-Budget memorandum.
Meanwhile, CII has also recommended continuation of 10 per cent peak rate of customs duty for the year 2020-21 to provide a level-playing field to the indigenous industry which suffers from disadvantages such as higher rate of interest, land and power.