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Before Budget, the government has decided to reduce customs duties on various non-agricultural goods and abolished domestic and foreign travel tax. The sectors include non-farm goods, coal, power projects, electricity meters, mobile phones, computers, aviation fuel, electrical appliances and bulk drugs. The concessions in indirect taxes, would come into effect from 9th January 2004.

The government has reduced the customs duty on non-agricultural goods by 5% to 25%, abolished the 4% special additional customs duty and cut customs duty on IT and electronic products.

The customs duty on cellular phones has been reduced from 10% to 5%, and the duty on imported coal has been reduced to 15% from 25%.

The excise duty on computers has been slashed by half to 8%.

Excise duty on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) has also been cut to 8% from 16%.

Regarding direct taxes, the government has simplified procedures dispensing with filing of income tax returns for employees having a salary up to Rs 1.5 lakh (Rs 1,50,000). The new procedure will be implemented from April 1, 2004.

Pensioners will be exempt from the purview of 1/6 scheme, indicating that pensioners who don't have taxable incomes, need not file returns.

The 15% inland air travel tax (IATT) and foreign travel tax of Rs 500 have been abolished.

The government has also reduced customs duty on power transmission and distribution projects to 10% from 25%, while that on electricity meters has been cut to 15% from 25%.

In the health sector, the government reduced customs duty on specific items like life-saving bulk drugs, formulations and medical equipment to 5%, which will be exempted from countervailing duty by way of excise duty exemption.

Customs duty on parts of artificial limbs and specified rehabilitation aids has been reduced to 5% and exempted from countervailing duty.

Excise duty on medical, surgical, dental, and furniture items has been halved to 8%.

The government has cut the top customs duty on non-farm goods to 20 per cent from 25 per cent.

It has scrapped the 15 per cent inland travel tax. It also slashed duty on cellphones and computers, which analysts say will add to the feel-good factor prevailing in the country.

The government also exempted low income workers and pensioners without taxable income from filing income tax returns.

.... Click for exclusive section on Indian Budget 2003-04

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