Arun Jaitley says economy challenging, India Inc presses for tax sops

PTI Posted online: Friday, Jun 06, 2014 at 0000 hrs
New Delhi : Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today described the economic situation as challenging even as India Inc pressed for tax concessions and bold reforms to reignite the investment cycle and promote growth.

In over two hour long pre-budget consultative meeting with the Finance Minister, captains of Indian industry listed out host of demands including lowering of tax rates, easing of gold import curbs, clarity on retrospective tax law amendment and early roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Direct Taxes Code (DTC).

Jaitley on his part pointed out that "the economic situation at present is quite challenging" and welcomed the enthusiasm of the industry to turn it to its advantage.

He further said it was a "constructive meeting" and promised to give directional thrust to the economy to ensure better results.

"Government should make earnest efforts to move away from the aggressive revenue approach and provide a genuine non-adversarial and conducive tax environment," Ficci President Sidharth Birla said.

The vexed issued of retrospective tax amendment carried out by the UPA had adversely impacted the investment sentiment.

"A simple, transparent and non-adversarial tax regime bereft of complexities and ambiguities would go a long way to strengthen business sentiment and restore faith of the foreign investor in the India growth story," CII President Ajay Shiram said.

Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal said: "Industry pitched for reviving the investment sentiment, making tax regime much more simple to understand, take away ambiguities."

On the telecom sector, he said, there is need to give boost to the sector and also auctioning of more spectrum.

Biocon Chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Essar Group Shashi Ruia, Suzlon Group Chairman Tulsi Tanti and Videocon Group chief V N Dhoot, Assocham President Rana Kapoor and PHD President Sharad Jaipuria also attended the meeting.

Pitching for service tax exemption for exports, Fieo President Rafeeque Ahmed said the Minister has indicated that there will not be any populist measures in the budget.

Biocon Chairperson Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said the industry wants a boost to manufacturing sector and job creation. Basically the government is very committed to kick-start the economy and other issues discussed were pertaining to service tax and exemptions."

The industry also demanded income tax exemption limit to be raised to raise to Rs 5 lakh from existing Rs 2 lakh and deferment of GAAR for at least next three year and exempting dividend from MAT.

Finance ministry sources said the mood of India Inc was optimistic.

Videocon Group Chairman Venugopal Dhoot said the I-T exemption limit for common man be hiked to Rs 5 lakh, from Rs 2 lakh at present.

Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council Chairman Vipul Shah asked Finance Minister to scrap import curb on gold.

"High on the government's priorities should be to adhere to the path of fiscal consolidation while not compromising on the quality of adjustment. It is critical to signal control over policymaking with the objective of improving the growth-inflation balance in the economy," Assocham President Rana Kapoor said.

In a statement Finance Ministry said the major suggestions received from the representatives of different industry and trade groups, including following the path of fiscal consolidation, curbing inflation especially food inflation, deferment of GARR for at least next three years, no retrospective amendments in tax laws henceforth.

Other suggestions include transparency, especially those relating to transfer pricing, encouraging foreign subsidiaries of Indian companies to bring back the money by exempting dividend from MAT, no MAT on exempted income such as long term capital gains, etc, among others.