Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Rajiv Kumar today said imposition of tax on agriculture income has always been considered by ‘successive governments’, even as he cautioned that any such move should be taken once the sector is productive and attached to modern scientific methods. He further said the government think tank will come out with a development agenda for ‘New India 2022′ by July, which will spell out strategy for expediting economic growth.
“Taxing agriculture income has always been under consideration of successive governments. We have to first ensure that our agriculture become productive and is put on a modern scientific basis,” he said in a tweet. Kumar was replying to a question on twitter whether taxing agriculture income beyond a threshold is a good idea as presented in the Kelkar report. Taxing the agriculture income has always been a politically sensitive issue and governments have refrained from doing so.
Last year , a controversy had erupted after Niti Aayog member Bibek Debroy at a press conference had said the agricultural income above certain threshold should be taxed. However, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had later clarified that there was no such proposal and the Centre has no power to impose tax on agricultural income.
The Niti Aayog too had quickly distanced itself from the comment, saying it was the personal view of Debroy. In a reply to another question on corruption leading to slowness in growth, the Niti Aayog Vice Chairman accepted that corruption is a real issue in the country. Replying to a query on government’s disinvestment programme, he said, “In some cases finding a strategic partner is far better than just divesting partially. Therefore privatization is preferred.”
“Yes corruption is a real issue. However, it is a state issue as you say. @NITIAayog will try to devise some kind of a competitive challenge among states to encourage them to tackle this,” he added. On US sanctions on Iran, Kumar said there is a suggestion to re-start rupee-rial bilateral trade. “This was quite successful during the last sanctions.
EU countries are unlikely to follow the US and so these may not bite anyways,” Kumar noted. Touching various other points, he said India needs to do far more on greening the country. “We should permit corporates to take up commercial forestry on degraded lands. Also, compensatory forestation options should be strictly enforced.” On if MNREGA can be used for afforestation, Kumar said it should be used for re-forestation.