The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MCI) is planning to cut down the duty-free liquor and cigarette allowance at airports across the country. By Kumar Shree
The MCI has requested the Ministry of Finance to cut down spirit allowance at airport duty-free stores. If this comes into effect, your earlier allowance of carrying two litres/two bottles of liquor would be reduced to one litre/one bottle only. These changes would apply to passengers flying to India.
Not only alcohol, but your cigarette is under the radar too. The MCI is also suggesting the removal of all cigarettes from duty-free store shelves. Before this, a 2015 legislation had cut down the number of cigarettes one could buy at duty-free stores operating at Indian airports. The number was halved from the earlier allowance of 200 cigarettes to 100 cigarettes. The total shopping allowance, however, still remains at a maximum of INR 50,000.
Upon coming into effect, this proposal will set India more in alignment with global standards as countries like the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore allow only a litre of duty-free alcohol. China and Australia qualify as exceptions with a litre and a half, and two and a half litres of duty-free hard liquor allowance. In terms of cigarette restrictions, India will be at par with Singapore that does not allow any duty-free sale.
The MCI is advocating their proposal as a move to boost excise revenue and to curb the unnecessary imports away. This, however, is not what the duty-free stores around the country were looking for as they were pushing to increase the duty-free allowance from INR 50,000 to INR 100,000. Let’s see what happens as the final call would come out only on Feb 1.