The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Feel-good roars into Ferrari club

New Delhi, Jan. 28: In this feel-good season when the government comes calling with a gift in hand for everyone it can think of, why not something for Sachin Tendulkar, too'

Commerce minister Arun Jaitley, a cricket aficionado himself, announced a mini exim policy — in line with the mini budget of finance minister Jaswant Singh earlier — today, under which Sachin will no longer be required to get the mandatory road-worthiness test for his Ferrari, gifted by Fiat.

Before the brigade that had screamed from rooftops against the import duty waiver on the Ferrari given to the cricketer starts rehearsing for the next big shindig, let it be clarified that the benefit is not for Sachin alone.

Any individual importing a vehicle valued over $40,000 will not require to have a homologation (road-worthiness) test done for it, but can produce only a certificate from an internationally accredited organisation.

Apart from being expensive, the test is time-consuming. Sachin had applied for a homologation test waiver for his scarlet Ferrari Modena 360, the first of its kind to land in India.

Sachin took possession of the car on August 11, 2003, and could keep it for six months till he produced a homologation certificate to the customs authorities. The six-month period expires in February.

Companies will also enjoy the same facility if they import vehicles costing over $40,000 under the export credit guarantee scheme.

Forget homologation and forget Mumbai, too. A car need no longer be imported through Mumbai port alone. Calcutta port — along with Nhava Sheva and Chennai and the Tughlakabad inland container depot outside Delhi and the Delhi air cargo terminal — can now be the point of entry.

With the imported car rolling in easier, gold and silver couldn’t be far behind. Jewellers will be able to import precious metals without having to go through an intermediary.

Until now, only government-owned MMTC and STC or banks — State Bank of India, ICICI, HSBC and Corporation Bank — could import gold and silver and jewellers bought from them.

Don’t get too excited: jewellery isn’t going to get very much cheaper. Bullion analysts in Mumbai said the government move would, at best, have a marginal impact on gold prices which have surged to new highs this year.

“It will now be possible to import gold at small centres in the country and it could also save costs to the tune of 0.5 per cent and time,” said Bhargava Vaidya, a bullion analyst.

Jewellers at Karol Bagh and Chandni Chowk, the two key bullion markets in Delhi, felt the move would pave the way for eventual abolition of the Rs 100 per 10 gram duty that is levied on gold imports.

If all this is cause for celebration, raising a toast should also get cheaper with heritage and one- and two-star hotels as well as stand-alone restaurants allowed to import duty-free liquor with their foreign exchange earnings. Earlier, only five-star hotels had this facility.

Generosity being the order of the day, the ceiling on the value of gifts sent abroad stands raised from Rs 1 lakh a year to Rs 5 lakh.

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