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Budget has not made import of critical inputs for semiconductor startups costlier

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday clarified that the government has not increased custom duty on components or intermediary items that startups, especially those in semiconductor and allied sectors, use as critical inputs.

She explained how the government visited the duty structure at an interaction with citizens on the Atma Nirbhar Economy the BJP Karnataka unit had organized in Bengaluru.

Some startups, especially those in the semiconductor and related sectors, have expressed concerns that some critical components that they use as inputs will now become expensive. She denied the suggestion and explained the idea of Atma Nirbhar campaign is not to make goods produced using imported components more expensive. “We cannot make them expensive,” she said, and added that the guiding principle of Atma Nirbhar Bharat is to build capacities in India, scale up production and make imports costlier of those products that are made and available in India.

After the recent union budget, some people also objected that she has hiked customs duties on some products because of which they have become costly, Sitharaman said. She, however, justified it, saying wherever duties have gone up, the government has done it consciously only in cases where those products are available locally.

The government, the finance minister said, had very carefully applied its mind wherever it has changed the customs duty structure. The whole idea is to see that those items which are made locally are not imported.

The production linked incentive (PLI) scheme comes in this context. The government has identified 14 sectors as champion sectors. These incentives are necessary to provide enough ground for people to come out of China and invest in India. The PLI applies to areas where India has good advantages. It applies to sectors that are scalable, the products of which have a demand and market in India, and where jobs can be added. Most of these are sunrise sectors, she said, and added the government is bringing in newer areas where the future lies within the PLI ambit.

Sitharaman gave the example of active pharmaceutical ingredient (API) in the pharma sector where India had a huge advantage years ago, but has lost out after exporting countries resorted to predatory pricing. The government has introduced PLI in the pharma sector to make Atma Nirbhar in pharmaceuticals.

The guiding principle of Atma Nirbhar, she said, is to make the Indian economy build on its own strengths and emerge a formidable global supplier.

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