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Tax breaks for debt mart soon
January, 23rd 2007
Amendments to I-T Act in Budget session expected. 
 
The government is planning to bring in amendments to the Income Tax Act, 1961, in the forthcoming Budget session to provide a fillip to the debt market. 
 
Finance ministry sources said the move was significant as the government is of the view that deepening of the corporate bond market is a necessity for raising the estimated $320 billion for upgrading the countrys infrastructure. 
 
As most retail investors prefer fixed income assets and as such would be ready buyers for corporate bonds, steps may be taken to mobilise household savings through tax incentives for investments in bonds, the sources added. In addition, stamp duties will be rationalised in consultation with state governments, under whose purview the duty falls. 
 
The R H Patil expert committee had recommended the enhancement of the scope of investment by provident, pension and gratuity funds, along with insurance companies in corporate bonds. 
 
The report had also suggested widening of the issuer base for a vibrant secondary market and a separate higher investment limit for Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs). 
 
However, there may not be amendments to the Securities Contract Regulation Act (SCRA) and other Sebi regulations. No amendments were required for the development of the equities market. Similarly, for the bond market too, amendments to the Act may not be required, the source added. 
 
As is the present practice in equity, Sebi is fully regulating the corporate bond market except in repos and is in an advanced stage of implementing the Patil Committee report. 
 
Trading of debt securities requires a vibrant secondary market like in equities - both to increase liquidity as well provide and exit route to investors including retail. At the moment, RBI regulates the debt market, in which financial institutions are dominant players. 
 
As corporate bonds are governed by the SCRA and Sebi regulations, the entities handling the clearing and settlement of these securities will be recognised entities under the Sebi framework, with the regulator framing the necessary regulations.
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