Abu Dhabi: Indians carrying television sets to their home country will have to pay 36.05 per cent duty starting August 26.

Imports of TVs through airline cargo will, however, remain unaffected and continue to be taxed around 28 per cent.

Currently Indians staying overseas for more than three nights are allowed to import TV sets valued up to Rs 35,000 without paying any tax. Since buying a TV in the UAE is almost 40 per cent cheaper than in India, many make good use of the law.

A 40” Sony BX450 costing Dh 1,899 (Rs33,000 at present exchange rates) in Dubai would cost Rs44,900 in India.

Sure enough, flights to India have many passengers lugging huge flat-panel television sets.

But that is going to change when the new ruling kicks in from Monday.

The move to ban duty-free imports of TV sets is India’s latest effort to narrow its current-account deficit and stem the fall in the rupee.

However, the custom duty on TVs has not gone down too well with expats.

“This is ridiculous We expat remit billions of rupees and we wonder why carrying one TV set should attract such a measure,” said K.V. Shamsudheen of Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust, a UAE-based Indian welfare organisation. “The Indian industry should be prepared for competition. It is an open market. You cannot behave as if you are in a restricted economy,” he added.

“The price advantage has come to a naught for me,” said a Sharjah resident, who’s flying to Mumbai with a 42” LCD TV on September 1.

Retailers in Dubai said the new regulation will impact sales. “Indian expats and tourists account for almost 15 per cent of our TV sales. It would certainly affect us,” said Rakesh Khanna, Head-Sony Business, Jumbo Electronics.

Niranjan Gidwani, Deputy CEO, Eros Group, said: “With the imposition of such high duties, there is likely to be a very serious impact on this business in the short to medium term.”

He said imposing high duties is restrictive and could also lead to opening up more corrupt channels at the India end, which might actually negate to some extent the purpose for which this exercise is being set up by the government of India.