The total consumption of standard newsprint in India is 2.5 million tonnes. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday proposed to cut the import duty on newsprint to five per cent in her Union Budget speech. The government in the last budget had imposed 10 per cent basic custom duty on newsprint and lightweight coated paper. "However, since then I have received several references that this levy has put additional burden on print media at a time when it is going through a difficult phase. I, therefore, propose to reduce basic customs duty on imports of newsprint and light-weight coated paper from 10 per cent to 5 per cent," she said while presenting the Union Budget for 2020-21.
The Indian Newspaper Society has earlier urged the government to save the newspaper industry by scrapping the 10 per cent duty imposed on newsprint and uncoated paper used for printing newspapers, and light weight coated papers for magazines. The total consumption of standard newsprint in India is 2.5 million tonnes and the indigenous mills have a capacity of 1 million tonnes only, the INS had said.
Meanwhile, to augment infrastructure, an accelerated highways development programme will be taken up that includes 9,000 kms of economic corridor and 2,500 kms of access-controlled highways, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.
Besides, 2,000 kms each of coastal roads and strategic highways will be constructed, the finance minister said while presenting the Union Budget 2020-21 in Parliament. "Accelerated development of highways to be undertaken. This will involve construction of 2,500 kms of access-controlled highways, 9,000 kms of economic corridors, 2,000 kms of coastal roads, and 2,000 kms of strategic highways," she said.
Sitharaman said the Delhi-Mumbai expressway will be completed in three years, in addition to two more express highway projects. Work will also start on the Chennai project, she said.
Terming a sound highways network essential to propel the economy, the Economic Survey on Friday had said the highways sector needs Rs 19.63 lakh crore investment by 2024-25. Total investment in the roads and highway sector has gone up more than three times in the five-year period of 2014-15 to 2018-19, the Survey had said.
Of about 59.64 lakh kms of roads in India, total length of National Highways was 1.32 lakh kms as on March 1, 2019. "The pace at which roads have been constructed has grown significantly from 17 km per day in 2015-16 to 29.7 km per day in 2018-19," it said.
Road transport is the dominant mode of transportation in terms of its contribution to Gross Value Added (GVA) and traffic share. The share of transport sector in the GVA for 2017-18 was about 4.77 per cent, of which the share of road transport is the largest at 3.06 per cent, followed by railways (0.75 per cent), air transport (0.15 per cent) and water transport (0.06 per cent).