Leather and leather goods sector is a focus area under the 'Make in India' initiative of the central government and the aim is to increase its exports to USD 15 billion by 2020 from the current USD 6 billion.

The Commerce and Industry Ministry in its suggestions for the Budget 2016-17, has recommended several initiatives including elimination of customs duty on imported leather machinery from about 26.5 percent currently, sources said.

It has also sought excise duty reduction for all leather and non-leather goods of up to Rs 2,000 and increase in the abatement rate to 35 percent from 25 percent.

These suggestions, if implemented, will help in assisting technology upgradation, capacity modernisation, expansion of manufacturing sector and achieving the USD 15 billion exports target, sources said.

Council for Leather Exports Chairman Rafeeq Ahmed said that the sector employs about 3 million people and support is required to boost the sector.

For gems and jewellery, which is also the thrust sector under the 'Make in India' programme, the industry has asked to raise customs duty to 15 percent from the current 10 percent and abolish the excise duty from the current rate of 6 percent on imitation jewellery.

The suggestions assumes significance as the popularity of Indian imitation jewellery across the globe is increasing and there is a huge demand in countries including the US and Europe.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will unveil the Budget on February 29.

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