Finance minister P Chidambaram said on Tuesday that the government will conduct "high-impact auditing" to curb excise duty evasion.
"There are some concerns about excise. It is one tax where I think there is high degree of evasion," Chidambaram told reporters after inaugurating a conference of Central customs and excise commissioners.
The audit would cover those assessees and sectors that are prone to tax evasion.
Central Board of Excise and Customs Chairman SK Singhal said several steel, furnace oil and pan masala units were found to be indulging in excise duty evasion.
Chidambaram also said that the government’s decision to cut import duties on edible oil would offset high global prices. The governmen, on Monday slashed customs duty on crude palm oil to 45 per cent from 50 per cent, and on refined palmolein RBD (Refined, Bleached Deodorised) to 52.7 per cent from 57.5 per cent.
Duty on crude soyabean oil was cut from 45 to 40 per cent, while on crude sunflower oil it was lowered to 40 per cent from 50 per cent. The tariff on refined sunflower oil has been reduced to 50 per cent from 60 earlier.
"It (cut in customs duty) is aimed at softening the impact of high international prices," he said.
The finance minister said the central excise department would share information with state governments on specific products, industries and cities to spot evasion and non-disclosures.
Central excise duty collections during the first quarter of the current financial year stood at Rs 25,161 crore against Rs 23,560 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous year.
Service tax collections grew by 31.6 per cent during the first quarter of 2007-08 and stood at Rs 7,257 crore as compared to Rs 5,514 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.
"We are slightly behind on excise, a shade behind on service tax, but at the moment we have no grave concerns in respect to budgetary targets... Now, I am confident that with the economy growing at close to nine per cent, the department will be able to meet the budget estimates of Rs 2,78,013 crore," Chidambaram said.