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'Increase excise duty on SUVs a retrograde step'

K.R. Balasubramanyam     February 28, 2013
Shekar Viswanathan, Vice Chairman & Whole-time Director, Toyota Kirloskar Motor, says the finance minister should have focused on encouraging volumes in the auto industry by reducing taxes.

What is your big takeaway from the Budget?
I am very disappointed. Talking specifically of the auto industry, increasing the excise duty from 27 to 30 per cent on all utility vehicles currently taxed at 27 per cent is a highly retrograde step. This will affect transport in the countryside as these cars are major people movers.

I did not expect this from the finance minister, who attacked the automobile sector, which is an acknowledged generator of employment and contributor to the economic growth. He has unwittingly encouraged the secondhand car market in MUVs and SUVs. The focus should have been more on encouraging volumes in the auto industry, which should have come through a reduction of taxes.

What is the outlook for the economy?
I think the outlook is bleak. If the GST (goods and services tax) is implemented, it will improve sentiments. Let them introduce the GST Bill in Parliament and make it happen. I wish it happens.

What is the outlook for your sector in particular?
For our own sector, it was bleak until now, and has just got bleaker with the Budget announcements.

What is the one thing that stood out for you from the budget?
The finance minister has increased the capital expenditure for the defence sector. I hope this will benefit all those domestic manufacturing units engaged in making products for the sector.

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