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Cigarette duty-free allowance halved

New Delhi, July 13 (PTI): Smokers returning to the country from a trip abroad will be able to bring back 100 cigarette sticks or 25 cigars duty-free, after the government slashed the duty-free allowance on tobacco to half.

But there is good news for shoppers. The free baggage allowance has been raised to Rs 45,000 from Rs 35,000 for all passengers aged 10 years or above and returning to the country after a stay of more than three days. For passengers under 10 years old, the allowance has gone up to Rs 17,500 from Rs 15,000.

For a stay abroad of three days or less, the allowance has been raised to Rs 17,500 from Rs 15,000 for passengers who are 10 years or older.

The changes were notified on Friday, a day after the budget, through the Baggage (Amendment) Rules, 2014.

The decision to halve the duty-free allowance for tobacco to 100 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 125 grams of tobacco comes on the heels of the “sin tax” finance minister Arun Jaitley announced in the budget. Excise duty has been increased on cigarettes, cigars, cheroots, cigarillos, pan masala, gutkha and chewing tobacco.

The duty-free allowance on liquor remains the same as before — two litres per passenger.

Passengers of Indian origin and foreigners residing in India and coming from Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and China, aged 10 years or older, are eligible for a duty-free allowance of Rs 6,000. For the same passengers, the allowance is Rs 35,000 if they are coming from any country other than the above four.

Foreign tourists have a duty-free allowance of Rs 8,000.

Visa fees

The Centre proposes to cut visa fees to boost tourism in India, Union tourism minister Shripad Naik said today. “We are charging $100 as visa fee while other countries like Sri Lanka and Maldives charge only $25. We want to bring it on a par with these countries which are attracting a large chunk of tourists,” he said.

The Union government is also working on lowering airfares to the country, Naik said.