Chinese lessons for Ram Naik ahead of budget

Vol 6, PW 25 (26 Feb 03) People & Policy

JUST TWO days after this issue of PETROWATCH reaches your desk, finance minister Jaswant Singh will unveil India's budget for the year beginning 1st April 2003.

No doubt oil minister Ram Naik is keeping his fingers crossed over what the budget holds for his sector: last year's budget was a disappointment - Naik received hardly anything on his wish-list. Not one to give up easily, Naik has prepared a 20-page dossier setting out what he wants from the budget, and why.

Top of his wish-list are static or higher import duties on crude oil and petroleum products to protect Indian refiners against cheaper imports, particularly from Singapore. In India the government charges 10% import duty on crude, kerosene, LPG and naphtha.

Naik wants to maintain this rate, or bring it down to 8% in line with a recommendation from the Vijay Kelkar panel on indirect taxes. Petrol, diesel, jet fuel, fuel oil and free market kerosene incur a 20% import duty.

Naik wants these products to be charged the same import tariff as crude (10%) plus another 10% (see: