Mumbai, 17 February 2020: United Toys Association along with the stakeholders of toy industry held a press conference today in The Press Club, Mumbai to raise voice and protest against government’s decision of increasing import duty on toys from 20% to 60%. Hundreds of toy traders and retailers joined the protest and expressed distress over the alarming decision of the government, wearing black bands on their arm and holding placards.
There are more than 30 crore children in India who are in the age group of 0-14 years. According to the experts, toys stimulate imagination, mental development and allow a child to understand, interact and connect with the world around them. Market dynamics should not govern the availability of these essential learning tools for children. Increase in import duty will lead up to 100% surge in the MRP of existing toys in India, which means a toy costing Rs. 500/- will be priced at Rs. 800/- to Rs. 1,000/- after the imposition of 200% hike in import duty on toys; raising the burden on customer’s pocket.
Parents are equally worried about the decision, in the state where they struggle to make ends meet, the hike will put them in a very uncomfortable situation where they will no longer be able to afford toys priced at such high rates; depriving children of their right to develop and play with toys.
Farooq M Shabdi, President of United Toys Association said, “It is estimated that within 3-4 months after the hike in import duty on toys, there will be a scarcity of toys in India. Reason being, India imports 85% of its annual toys requirement from other countries and only 15% of the annual requirement of toys is manufactured in India. Traders and retailers will not be able to bare such high import duty and stop importing toys. On the other hand, Indian manufacturers will not be able to fulfil the overwhelming demand for toys and in the next 3-4 months the stock of toys will be exhausted.”
The most impacted range of toys will be innovative toys which include STEM toys, Robots, Flying toys, Radio control and battery-operated toys, as a major part of toys manufactured in India are non-function toys and board games. In fact, some of the domestic manufacturers need to import components and toy parts too.
The government’s budget proposal is a bid to balance trade deficit by including toys in a non-essential commodity. However, industry experts say that the country’s current toy production cannot fill the gap left by imported toys for the Indian market. “We are against of such unjustifiable hike in import duty on essential commodities that are not manufactured enough in India”, said Abdullah Sharif, Vice President, United Toys Association.
The move will also hurt 5,00,000+ people (toy traders, retailers & axillary) across India, “As toy prices soar and sales decline, the very livelihoods of the toy traders and retailers will be adversely affected by the move; leading to the closure of businesses and unemployment. In the coming days, we will issue a memorandum to the government, appealing to revoke the unreasonable decision of increasing import duty on toys. We stand firm against the proposed hike of 200% in import duty on toys”, Abdullah added.
The protesters have demanded that the Indian government to treat toys as an essential commodity, akin to educational books for children. Today’s toys are educational tools, promoting STEM development, role-play, coding and developing cognitive skills for the newly emerging India.