Increased Duty On Imported Goods To Add Fillip To Self-Reliance, Says FM

Sitharaman said the Atma Nirbhar philosophy is a guiding principle but it is not blindly applied in a manner that it affected the Indian interests

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday said the Union budget for 2022-23 was about the philosophy of ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant Bharat) as customs duties were increased on those imported products which are also manufactured in India so that people buy the Indian equivalent.

However, duties have not been increased on the products produced within the country.

“Everyone said – ‘Oh, my god, you’ve reduced duty here but you’ve increased the duty somewhere else.’ Customs duty was increased leading to some of the imported material being more costly nowadays,” Sitharaman said during an interactive program organised by the Karnataka unit of the BJP under the title ‘Atmanirbhar Arthavyavastha.’

She said she raised the duty and made the imported product expensive so that people buy all that is Indian.

“I’m sorry you have to buy an Indian equivalent rather than the imported ones. If it is available in India, buy it in India. We have not increased duties for those products which are produced in India,” the Finance Minister said.

She clarified that the duty has not been increased on those important products such as semiconductors, which are critical but are not manufactured in India.

Sitharaman said the Atma Nirbhar philosophy is a guiding principle but it is not blindly applied in a manner that it affected the Indian interests.

She said there is enough application of mind so that India does not make such critical products expensive which are essentially required for manufacturing in the country. However, the government would make sure that if a product is produced in India it should not be imported.

Elaborating, she said the Atma Nirbhar Bharat guides the custom duty-related decision-making or even the productivity-linked incentive (PLI) scheme where 14 sectors have been chosen as champion sectors and for which huge allocation of money is being made so that every incremental unit which has been produced get financial assistance.

Speaking about making India competent enough to attract investment on par with China, the Finance Minister said, “At a time when we were talking about China, we need to provide enough ground for people to come out of China and invest…”

Stressing that ‘Atma Nirbhar’ speaks about capacity-building, she said,”Like for instance, a crisis in Ukraine. There are a lot of problems. We have a lot of challenges but we see an opportunity as well. Indian farmers have produced enough wheat. Because of the war, wheat is not available there and we are able to send good quantity there. These are the ways in which Atma Nirbhar has to be looked at in the global perspective,” she said.