'Hiked import duty on STBs to jack up indigenous production'
Kolkata, March 5 : Hailing the central government's decision to raise the import duty on set top boxes (STBs), a cable TV manufacturers association Tuesday said the move would boost indigenous productions of these devices.
The Cable TV Equipment Traders and Manufacturers Association (CTMA), however, said the import duty hike from 5 percent to 10 percent would in the short-term push up the prices of STBs by about Rs.500 to Rs.600.
"We are happy that they have increased customs duty on the import of STBs. This will push the indigenous manufacturers to come forward and take the advantage of the cushion, which has now been allowed to them for manufacturing set top boxes in India," CTMA secretary K.K. Binani said here.
"Earlier, the cost difference was so low that it was not being profitable to produce the boxes in India," he said, on the sidelines of "Cable TV Show 2013", an annual affair, organised by the CTMA here.
A lot of STBs are currently being imported from China. Indian cable operators and multiple system operators (MSOs) are also procuring the devices from Taiwan and South Korea.
India, the third largest market for set-top boxes after the US and China, has been heavily dependent on the imported devices as currently the country's STB manufacturing industry is at a very nascent state.
"I do not think that more than five percent production is happening in India to meet the total demands. We have to depend entirely on import," Binani said.
As the government had made the digitisation compulsory, the operators have no option but to take resort to imported equipment to abide with the law, he argued.
He, however, opined that this important sector should not have so much dependence on imports and thus the hike in import duty on STBs would now boost indigenous production.
CTMA also demanded some fiscal incentives like tax holidays to ensure that the domestic production of the devices picked up.
It said increase in domestic production would save the country's foreign exchanges and also raise technical competence of domestic producers.
According to the association, pan-India demand for STBs is estimated at about 120 million units.