Saturday, March 3, 2012

Budget 2012: Government likely to raise tax rates in Union Budget, says official

Dear Comrades,

NEW DELHI: India is likely to raise taxes on a number of manufactured items and expand the tax net in its Budget 2012 to rein in its deficit and give space for the central bank to cut interest rates to support growth, a top government economic adviser said on Friday.

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has called on the government to cut its fiscal deficit to help fight inflation, while signalling its bias is towards beginning to cut interest rates. 

India's fiscal deficit is expected to miss its target of 4.6 percent of GDP in the fiscal year ending this month by at least one percentage point. "One of the possibilities is full rollback of the stimulus, that is almost 1 percent of the GDP," Pronab Sen, principal adviser to India's Planning Commission, told Reuters on Friday.

India implemented a stimulus package of about 1.86 trillion rupees ($37.6 billion) following the 2008 global financial crisis, mainly through tax cuts, which have only been partly rolled back. "There is space. The space is basically raising excise duties," Sen said

C Rangarajan, chairman of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council, has said the government should lift its tax to GDP ratio to 12 percent, where it was in the fiscal year that ended in March 2008, from its current level near 10.4 percent.

The finance minister may also raise import duties on power equipment in the budget, Sen said. A proposal to increase factory gate duties on a number of items to 12 percent from 10 percent is also under consideration. "Unless you have a fiscal correction happening it will not create the space for the RBI to relax on monetary policy," he said.

Industrial groups are lobbying for a further cut in tax rates to support economic recovery. The RBI ended a 20-month interest rate tightening cycle in October. Economists expect it to cut its main policy rate by 100 basis points in 2012 from the current 8.5 percent.

India's economic growth slowed to 6.1 percent in the three months to December, the weakest annual pace in almost three years, as high interest rates and rising raw material costs constrained investment and manufacturing.

Even if the RBI starts cutting interest rates in March or April, the investment cycle will not pick up before the July-September quarter, Sen said. "It could be around 7 percent till the second quarter of next fiscal," he said. "We have to live with cycles."
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