Direct tax growth in 2019-20 could even beat estimate, says Finance Secretary Ajay Narayan Jha

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Updated: February 5, 2019 6:06:01 AM

With GST forms made simpler, we are expecting better compliance and enforcement next year.


scheme for farmers,PM-Kisan, finance secretary, Ajay Narayan Jha, Direct tax growthFinance secretary Ajay Narayan Jha

A possible growth in direct taxes which could even exceed the budget assumptions coupled with efficient management of expenditure will help the government to implement PM-Kisan, the income support scheme for farmers, finance secretary Ajay Narayan Jha told FE’s Prasanta Sahu. Excerpts:

Do you have a plan to rationalise extant subsidies and cut other wasteful spend given the Rs 75,000 crore/annum income support scheme announced in the Budget for farmers?

This support is in addition to what is already being given to farmers, not in lieu of them. On taxation, our growth projections for direct taxes is 15% and 12% for indirect taxes. We are now seeing 16-17% growth in direct taxes; if it grows as per the past trend and not at 15%, we could get some additional resources next year. With more formalisation of the economy, we should see better compliance of all taxes. Also, more efficiency would be brought in expenditure with inclusion of more schemes under the direct benefit transfer platform.

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Isn’t it too optimistic to have 18% growth in GST receipts in FY20 after a shortfall of about Rs 1 lakh crore in FY19?

I think we should be able to reach that growth rate. GST is subdued this year because a lot of concessions were given amounting to about Rs 1 lakh crore. With GST forms made simpler, we are expecting better compliance and enforcement next year.

The Centre’s capex growth is projected to moderate from 20% in FY19 to 6% in FY20. Won’t that hurt economic growth?

In railways, highways and defence, we will make substantial investments next year. Ministry of road and transport’s allocation has gone up from Rs 71,000 crore to Rs 78,000 crore in revised estimate and to Rs 83,000 crore in BE for FY20. BE to BE growth is very high, but if you see from RE to BE, then growth is less.

Besides high capex, CPSEs are paying substantial dividends, buying back shares in the past few years. Will these CPSEs be able to maintain capex momentum next year?

Capex also giving them benefits as they are in very niche areas of operations. So, that advantage they would continue to have. I do not seen much constraints in CPSEs’ capex next year.

Why very little provision has been made under PM AASHA for procurement of oil seeds and pulses? Is the new MSP scheme not picking up?

What we have provided in the budget is the interest cost of the loans taken by Nafed. If there is a loss after disposing of the oil seeds and pulses procured, that will be compensated. Nafed has spent almost Rs 18,341 crore for MSP procurement of 38.57 lakh tonne pulses and oil seeds as on January 16, 2019 (in FY19).

Budget allocation for important schemes such as MGNREGA has not seen much increase for FY20…
We have enhanced allocation for MGNREGA from Rs 55,000 crore to Rs 61,000 crore RE for FY19 and Rs 60,000 crore for next year. If required more funds would be provided at the time of revised estimate.
CAG recently expressed concern over off-budget funding of food subsidies…

For accounting purposes, FCI is treated as a separate entity. If there is a commitment on food subsidies, we underwrite that. Then we take care of principal and interest from government of India account. It is above the table not under table. There was a difference of opinion between CAG and ministry of finance, but CAG did not accept our explanation.

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