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Naik seeks duty cut

New Delhi, Jan. 30: Petroleum minister Ram Naik today asked finance minister Jaswant Singh to reduce the excise duty on petro-goods and scale down the customs duty on crude oil to help the national oil companies maintain lower prices for consumers in the face of soaring international prices.

The national oil companies have already increased prices twice in a row during their latest fortnightly revisions.

Sources disclose that in the pre-budget meeting, the petroleum minister argued for a specific rate of excise and customs duty which would be revenue neutral. This practice is followed in the US, Europe and Japan.

In India, both excise and customs duties are imposed on an ad valorem basis. Consequently, as prices rise, the tariff on petro-goods also goes up commensurately and further increases the burden on the consumer.

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