Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Chinese Whispers for Indian Importers

Thanks to the incessant power outages in Kerala, I needed a rechargable battery for my emergency lamp. At the electrical shops lining Thakaraparambil road in Trivandrum, the battery is easily available . A shopkeeper unpacks a set and I take a look at the product code - it is the correct one. How much does it cost?

"Rs.185", says the shopkeeper.

I turn it over and see that it has a printed sticker marked - "Rs. 75 Maximum Retail Price (MRP)". I protest.

The shopkeeper removes the product from the counter and puts it back on the shelf. "Take it or leave it", he says, "Chinese products always come this way. Even the caller-id machines come with an MRP of Rs.5 but we never sell it for less than Rs.50". Needless to say, there is no proof-of-purchase here - the shops flatly refuse to provide receipts for Chinese goods.

Obviously somebody has cleared the imports based on the MRP, and made a killing. If you consider the fact that just about everything in the electrical goods market is now Chinese, how much is the net excise-duty & tax evasion on account of Chinese imports to India?

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