August 14, 2003

Fiat agrees to pay duty on Sachin's Ferrari

Wisden CricInfo staff

Fiat has volunteered to pay the import duty on Sachin Tendulkar's controversial new Ferrari. The red Ferrari-360 Modena was gifted to Tendulkar last year on occasion of his scoring his 29th Test hundred - drawing level with Don Bradman. Tendulkar had applied for an import duty exemption on the car, which was duly granted by the government. This generated enormous controversy in India, with the Delhi High Court stepping in to question the duty waiver.

Fiat, who gained tremendous marketshare from Tendulkar's endorsement of their `Palio' brand, have released a statement saying that they have taken the burden of paying the import duty upon themselves. The statement stated: "Fiat India [will] pay the import duty for Sachin's Ferrari, as the gift was meant to felicitate and honour him for his achievement. The Ferrari Modena was presented to Sachin by Fiat for equalling Sir Donald Bradman's record of scoring 29 Test centuries. Fiat believes that this gesture on its part, of paying the import duty, is in keeping with the spirit in which the gift was given."

The statement reaffirmed Fiat's relationship with Tendulkar, saying, "In Sachin, Fiat found the perfect brand champion for the company in India. He is dynamic, full of life, young, energetic, dependable, a winner and above all, committed to sporting excellence. This fits perfectly with our product profile and compliments our endeavour to present the new face of Fiat India to our customers."

While the move will generate plenty of positive publicity for Fiat in India, the fact remains that they should have done exactly this in the first place: brought the Ferrari into India by paying the import duty in question, and only then gifted it to Tendulkar. It would be unfair of them to give Tendulkar a gift abroad on which he would have to pay a duty of 120%; it was equally unjust on the celebrity-struck government's part to waive the import duty due on the car, thus indicating that Tendulkar was above the law. Fiat have now done exactly what they should have in the first place, bringing to an end a controversy that was damaging to all concerned.

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