Cement industry wants reduction in VAT

Raising concerns over discrimination in tax on cement compared to other building materials, the industry calls for a reduction in VAT in the upcoming Budget.

The cement industry on Tuesday said that the government should bring the value-added tax (VAT) on cement at par with other building materials like steel in the Budget and scrap import duty on coal, gypsum and other fuels, reports PTI.

“There are some lingering discriminations in respect of cement compared to other building materials. This includes equalising the rate of VAT on cement to that on steel and other building materials," ACC Ltd managing director Sumit Banerjee told PTI.

While steel attracts 4% VAT, VAT on cement it is as high as 12.5%. Industry players argue that since both the materials are used for construction, cement should be given a level-playing field to that of steel.

"Though cement is the most essential infrastructure input, the tax on cement is the highest among the items required for building infrastructure. The total government levies and taxes on cement constitute 60% or more of the ex-factory price," industry body FICCI said in a pre-Budget memorandum to finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

Levies and taxes on cement in India are far higher than in most of the other countries in the Asia-Pacific Region, where the average tax is just 11.4%, with the highest levy of 20% being in Sri Lanka.

Mr Banerjee added that the import duty on coal, gypsum and other fuels should be removed, and customs duty should be levied on cement imports into India.

Echoing Mr Banerjee's views, Dalmia Cement (Bharat) managing director Puneet Dalmia said that the industry expects to be granted "declared goods" status like steel, which would enable the sector to reduce expenditure on taxes.

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    Aqua Logistics eyeing acquisition in Far East

    Logistics provider plans a Rs50-crore acquisition of a company in the Far East and will expand its footprint in the Middle East

    Logistic solutions provider Aqua Logistics plans to acquire a company in the Far East, which will facilitate Indo-China trade, in the next two months, a top company official told PTI.

    "We have already identified the company in the Far East market and discussions are in the advanced stages. We will acquire the company soon," Aqua Logistics vice-chairman MS Sayad told reporters on Tuesday.

    The acquisition will be at around Rs 50 crore, Mr Sayad said.

    Far East countries include China, Hong Kong, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia.
    The Mumbai-based company also plans to expand its footprint in the Middle-East market in the next five to six months.

    "We are planning to set up our offices at Dubai and Hong Kong in the next six months. We are confident that we can secure the Middle-East market," he said.
    Aqua Logistics is engaged in freight forwarding services with agents to provide end-to-end solutions to its clients.

    In order to extend its scope of services, the company ventured into project cargo and contract logistic segments in FY07.

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    Maruti recalls its A-Star cars in thousands

    Following on the heels of troubled automakers Toyota and Honda, Maruti recalls one lakh units of its hatchback ‘A-Star’ to replace faulty fuel pump parts.

    The country's largest carmaker Maruti Suzuki India is recalling about one lakh units of its flagship export model 'A-Star' to replace a faulty fuel pump part, reports PTI.

    According to sources, the company is replacing a faulty rubber gasket in about one lakh cars—manufactured before August 2009 and sold in domestic as well as overseas markets—to prevent any possible fuel leakage.

    The problem was discovered in an internal survey by the company but no complaint has been received so far, they added.

    A company spokesperson commented, “At Maruti Suzuki, we constantly monitor quality of our products through feedback and internal analysis. In one such exercise in November 2009, we came across an anomaly reported in the fuel tank in some of the vehicles and by December, 2009, we started contacting the customers through letters.”

    The company started replacing the gasket from December 2009, and has so far changed the part in about 50,000 units.

    Maruti Suzuki India (MSI) had launched its fifth global model—A-Star—on 19 November 2008. The 998cc K10B petrol-engine car is manufactured only in India at its Manesar facility.

    The recalled vehicles belong to a lot made till August 22 last year, the spokesperson said.

    "No problem has been reported by customers. However, as a proactive step, we decided to check all vehicles from the lot, around one lakh units including those exported overseas. We are changing fuel pump gasket and 'O' ring at no cost to customer," he added.

    The final cost for this replacement would be shared with the supplier partner after completion of the entire exercise.

    A-Star is currently exported to about 70 countries and is sold as Suzuki Alto in Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Some of the other major markets are Chile, Angola, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria and UAE, where it is sold as Suzuki Celerio.

    Japanese car major Nissan also sells A-Star in the European market under a contract manufacturing agreement with MSI's parent Suzuki. Nissan sells the model as Pixo.

    In December last year, A-Star had crossed the one-lakh mark of overseas shipments in less than a year of selling the car in the global markets. It started the export of the car since January 2009. The company is expecting to double its exports of A-Star this fiscal on the back of robust demand. It exported 70,023 units in 2008-09.

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