A look at ‘Finance Minister’ Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure as he attends RSS event

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Updated: June 7, 2018 7:13:43 PM

Former President Pranab Mukherjee is all set to address the RSS Tritiya Varsh valedictory today. While his decision to engage with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ruffled many feathers, we are going to have a look at Pranab Mukherjee -- the 'Finance Minister'.

A look 'Finance Minister' Pranab Mukherjee's tenure as he attends RSS eventNicknamed Poltu-da, Pranab Mukherjee served two terms as finance minister, 25 years apart. (Image: PTI)

Former President Pranab Mukherjee is all set to address the RSS Tritiya Varsh valedictory today. While his decision to engage with Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) ruffled many feathers, we are going to have a look at Pranab Mukherjee — the ‘Finance Minister’. Nicknamed Poltu-da, Pranab Mukherjee served two terms as finance minister, 25 years apart. He was the finance minister of India between January 1982 and December 1984 in Indira Gandhi’s government and again between January 2009 and June 2012 in Manmohan Singh’s government.

Arguably, the biggest highlight of Pranab Mukherjee’s tenure as the finance minister of India was the retrospective tax — a decision he defended in his book last year. In 2012, Pranab Mukherjee, in the Budget 2012-13, proposed to amend the Income-Tax Act, 1961 with retrospective effect to tax Vodafone-type merger and acquisition deals done overseas that involve domestic assets. The decision was largely criticised even as some of his earlier tax reforms were praised by economists and analysts.

Also Read: Pranab Mukherjee RSS Speech LIVE

Last year, in his book ‘The coalition Years: 1996 to 2012’ defended the decision to introduce the retrospective tax, saying that it was borne out of his conviction that direct tax should not discriminate between domestic and foreign companies. Experts and opposition said that it ended up scaring foreign investors.

His proposal to increase the income tax exemption limit for senior citizens by Rs 15,000, for women and others by Rs 10,000 each, while keeping the corporate tax rate unchanged in the 2009-10 Budget was welcomed by analysts. In the same budget, Pranab Mukherjee abolished the fringe benefit tax and commodity transaction tax. The decision was received well by the experts.

Just before resigning as the finance minister ahead of 2012 Presidential polls, Pranab Mukherjee expressed concern over sharp depreciation in rupee and inflationary pressures in the economy. The rupee had lost over 20% against the US dollar in one year, exerting inflationary pressure on the economy, particularly with regard to crude oil imports. As finance minister during Indira Gandhi-era, Pranab Mukherjee won many accolades for repaying International Monetary Fund’s loans.

Pranab Mukherjee is also considered the architect of Direct Tax Code, which never got implemented. Under the code, Pranab Mukherjee proposed to replace the Income Tax Act with an aim to widen the income tax base. He proposed to raise the exemption limit and introduce some changes in the tax slabs. Now, the Narendra Modi government is also planning a complete overhaul of the Income Tax Act, which is being called an effort to reintroduce the Direct Tax Code.

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