In an apparent dig at NITI Aayog member Bibek Debroy, the think tank’s vice chairman Arvind Panagariya today said that ‘wrong choice of words’ can create big news. Panagariya’s comment came against the backdrop of a controversy generated this week over the remarks by Debroy on taxing agriculture income. Panagariya made the comment at a workshop on Smart Cities, where Debroy was the first speaker. The event was also attended by Urban Development Minister M Venkaiah Naidu. Debroy said: “We are greatly privileged that we have Union Minister Venkaiah Naidu.
“Those from Australia may not know that the honourable minister is known for coining very apt acronyms at the drop of a hat.” Panagariya responded to his remarks, saying, “Acronyms that Naidu coins are also meaningful. Few wrong choice of words in a speech can lead to big news.” Debroy’s remarks at a press conference this week that agriculture income should be brought under the tax net created flutter in the government circles.
“On the personal income tax side also exemption should go … On expanding the base on the personal income tax side, other than elimination of exemptions, is to also tax rural sector, including agriculture income above certain threshold,” Debroy had said. His remarks on a politically sensitive issue prompted Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who was in Moscow, to issue a statement that government does not have any plans to tax agriculture income.
The NITI Aayog too quickly distanced itself from the comment saying it was the personal view of Debroy and there was no proposal in the 3-year action agenda, which was circulated among the Chief Minister’s on Sunday, to tax farm income.