” implementation of GST is expected to improve the tax administration regime” says Arun Jaitley

The Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs and Information & Broadcasting, Shri Arun Jaitley at the Pre-Budget consultative committee meeting, in New Delhi on January 06, 2015.

6 January 2015,New Delhi.The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that the Infrastructure Sectors such as coal, power and cement have been recording double digit growth in the last few months while growth in manufacturing sector is still patchy. He said that reviving manufacturing, diversifying its base and equipping it for robust long run expansion is one of the major challenges of our economic management. The Finance Minister, Shri Jaitley was making the Opening Remarks during the Pre Budget Consultative Meeting with the representatives of Trade and Industry here today. He said that we still have lot of distance to cover. The Finance Minister said that ease of doing business is high priority for the Government. He said that we are working on a task given the Prime Minister to improve India’s ranking on the ease of doing business index. He said that implementation of GST is expected to improve the tax administration regime and would help in bringing more transparency in the system and ensure smooth flow of goods. It will also help in better implementation and collection of taxes. He said that reforms measures undertaken by the present Government in coal sector, insurance and amendments in Land Acquisition Act etc will make a major difference in improving the Indian economy’s performance.

The meeting was attended among others by Shri Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance, Shri Rajiv Mehrishi, Finance Secretary, Shri Shaktikanta Dass, Revenue Secretary, Dr. Hasmukh Adhia, Secretary (DFS), Ms. Ardhana Johri, Secretary (Disinvestment), Shri Rajiv Kher, Secretary, Department of Commerce, Ms. Anita Kapur, Chairperson, CBDT, Shri Kaushal Srivastava, Chairman, CBEC, and Ms. Aditi S. Ray, Principal Adviser, DIPP among officers while the representatives of Industry and Trade included Shri Ajay Shriram, President, CII, Shri Rana Kapoor, President, ASSOCHAM, Dr. Jyotsna Suri, President, FICCI, Shri D. Gandhi Kumar, President, Federation of Indian Micro and Small & Medium Enterprises (FISME), Ms. Rajni Agarwal, President, Federation of Indian Women Entrepreneurs (FIWE), Shri M. Rafeeque Ahmed, President, FIEO, Shri Vipul Shah, Chairman, Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council, Shri Ashish Gupta, Consulting CEO, Federation of Associations in Indian Tourism & Hospitality (FAITH), Shri A. Sakthivel, Tirupur Exporters’ Association, Shri R.C. Bhargava, Chairman, Maruti Suzuki India, Shri R. Shankar Raman, CFO, L&T, , Shri Amit Bakshi, ERIS Life Sciences, Shri S.B. Misra, MINEX Metalurgical, , Shri Ratin Basu, MD, Aistom India, Shri Sunil Sood, COO, Vodafone India, Shri G.H. Singhania, CMD, Raymonds Ltd., Shri Anupam Shah, Chairman, EEPC India, Shri K.N. Bajaj, Bajaj Group, and Shri Shashi Ruia, ESSAR Group among others.

The representatives of Trade and Industry made various recommendations for consideration of the Union Finance Minister while formulating the budgetary proposals for the financial year 2015-16. The major recommendations include measures for fiscal consolidation, promoting investment (both domestic and foreign), containing inflation, generating employment and creating skills as well as for facilitating ease of doing business among others. Other recommendations include flag-off strategic sale of loss making Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), deployment of PSUs surplus funds to add and expand capacity, effect phased dilution of Government stakes in Public Sector Banks to 51%, create a National Asset Management Company (NAMCO) which would take NPAs off the bank’s balance sheet and also focus on reconsolidation, recapitalization and refinancing of banks, encourage use of the reverse BOT structuring to finance infrastructure projects where the initial construction cost is borne by the Government/PSUs ; and to fund programmes such as Swacch Bharat Ahbiyan, Clean Ganga Programme, creation of Smart Cities, create an SPV based on a revenue generated model among others.

It was suggested that all major subsidies be made available to only BPL households, create a Fuel Price Stabilization Fund to check volatility in fuel prices, implement PSU disinvestment systematically, strategy required on restructuring/ privatization of loss making PSUs (both Centre and States). The representatives of trade and industry also suggested incentives to kick start investment, fast track clearance of stalled/stuck projects and encourage investments in infrastructure funds/trusts, and development of an efficient and Vibrant Corporate Bond Market among others.

Various suggestions were also made with regard to tax reforms and tax administration including genuine efforts to establish non-adversarial and conducive tax environment, tax regime to be made predictable, sustainable and transparent among others.

Some of the representatives suggested the need for affordable housing, digitization of land records, single window clearances, introduction of municipal bonds, smart city bonds. Some of the representatives emphasized the need for higher investment in health care and education sector and to focus on generation of resources through railways to meet requirements of other infrastructure sector, and consolidation of regulators etc. It was also suggested that woman on Board of Directors of all Public Sector Banks and Financial Institutions be made mandatory, establishment of National Tourism Holding Company with tripartite agreement with State Government for global bidding fund for large international conventions and sport events tec.

In order to boost the exports, it was suggested among others that the removal of duty on petroleum products imports under advance licenses, expediting payment of duty drawback and central excise rebate claims, exemption from excise duty on purchase of capital goods from indigenous manufacturers under EPCG scheme, service tax exemptions for exports and currency hedging not be treated as speculative transaction rather be treated at par with trading in derivatives, incentivizing manufacturing firms in exports, safe harbor rules for contract manufacturing for other sectors including pharma, continuation of interest subvention scheme for a further period of three years( it expired on 31st March, 2014) and setting-up of an Export Development Fund with focus on marketing research and innovative tools of marketing as it would help not only existing exporters but would also attract new entrepreneurs in the field of exports.

Other suggestions include continuous support for export of small cars, extension of Investment Allowance under Section 32 Ac of IT Act to the non-corporate sector including readymade garment manufacturers and minimum ceiling of investment maybe scaled down from Rs. 25 crore to Rs. 1 crore among others.

Some of the trade representatives appreciated the Government’s bold steps to issue Ordinances with regard to coal blocks’ auction, insurance laws and Amendments in Land Acquisition Act etc. which indicates that Government is decisive and fully committed in making reforms.

Dr. Jyotsna Suri, President of FICCI today has urged the Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley, to make earnest efforts to move away from the

aggressive revenue approach and provide a genuine non-adversarial and conducive tax
environment for industry and the economy to flourish.

For creation of such an environment, Dr. Suri suggested few steps as given below :

• Revenue estimates and targets should be arrived at realistically in accordance with
the state of the economy;
• Parameters for evaluating and reporting the performance of tax officers annually
need to be revised. Revenue realized should not be a factor for appraising the
performance of an assessing officer. Performance of the tax officers should be
judged on the basis of the quantum and quality of different items of work rendered
in all areas including assessment of traits like judiciousness and facilitation.

In the pre-Budget consultation with the Finance Minister, the FICCI President said, “The
overwhelming focus of the Government machinery on revenue ‘Targets’ puts too much
pressure on the tax officers to maximise revenue collections leading to arbitrary
assessments, denial / delay in sanction of refunds, disputes and unwarranted litigation.
Revenue generation is primarily dependent on the economic activity in the country;
revenues cannot be enhanced by prescribing artificially high targets for the tax officers.”

Dr. Suri re-emphasised the need for bringing down the high cost of capital which has
emerged as a major hurdle in Indian industry’s competitiveness. “Reduction in interest rates
will give a boost to demand (for housing and consumer durables) as well as investments
(especially for MSMEs and entrepreneurship), which will have a spiralling effect on overall
investment and growth cycle,” she said. With inflation under control, it is hoped RBI will
now consider easing the monetary policy stance and bring down the interest rates.

FICCI also appreciates government’s efforts towards fiscal consolidation. It is expected that
the report of Expenditure Management Commission will lay out a roadmap for
rationalization of subsidies and curtailing non-productive expenditure. This will enhance the
scope for more productive capital expenditure, especially for infrastructure, which will have
a positive effect on economic growth and development.