Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday declared that government will intervene in the economy and address issues relating to the industry as and when required and said she has not discussed the question of raising Goods and Services Tax (GST) with anyone.
On the high prices of onion, Sitharaman said there were reports that prices of onion have decreased in several places. “We are also importing. The Group of Ministers on the issue met recently and it has taken up import-related issues,” she said. The finance minister said one has to take into account the perishable nature of the commodity and the availability due to rains and added that the government was taking all steps to improve its availability. On the insolvency code, she said the government has been very quick-footed.
To a question on the buzz that there was a likelihood of hike in GST rates, Sitharaman said, “The buzz is everywhere except in my office. I have had no conversations on the GST Council meeting with my team yet.”
“No comments on these narratives. It is going on. I am hearing it,” said the minister when asked about experts predicting the economy was heading for stagflation because of the current slowdown. She also declined to answer a query on projections that revenue targets both on direct and indirect taxes may not be achieved this fiscal.
Earlier, making a presentation, Subramanian said government has taken various measures since this year’s budget to boost consumption, investment and retail lending and they were yielding results. He said due to budgetary measures and subsequent steps like cut in corporate taxes which have made the country competitive, there has been an FDI arrival of $35 billion till now this fiscal as against $31 billion during the same period last year. “It’s a good sign of foreigners seeing India as a very important destination,” he added.
He said of the capital expenditure target of Rs 3.38 lakh crore, two-third has been achieved as of this month.
Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSEs) have done a CAPEX of Rs 98,000 crore upto now and Rs 60,000 will be spent in the remaining part of the financial year, Subramanian said.
Revenue Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pande said the government will get a fairy good estimate on the impact of corporate tax reduction on December 15, the last date of payment of advance tax. The total refunds have increased by 27.2% this year. He said pre-filled ITRs were provided to more than 2 crore salaried taxpayers. Rs 1.57 lakh crore tax was refunded this year against Rs 1.23 lakh crore last year. Pandey said the government wanted to bring down the pendency of disputes. Income tax refunds have increased by 17% as against last year.
He said income tax refunds of Rs 33,000 crore has been done till November. Government and PSU dues of Rs 61,000 crore cleared in the past two months, he added.