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No fresh tax cuts, but govt may retain slump-year props
January, 12th 2011

The industry made a strong pitch for a cut in corporate tax to 25% from 30%, retaining the fiscal stimulus measures and further protection for local businesses.

Industries bodies also sought more sops for exports and status quo on excise duty and service tax during their meeting with finance minister Pranab Mukherjee ahead of the annual budget presentation in February-end.

The finance minister may not, however, accept the industry demand for fresh tax cuts and at best may go slow in rolling back policy measures that were used to prop up the economy two years ago as he is worried about high fiscal deficit and inflation, said one of the industrialists present at the meeting.

Although India Inc has recovered from the economic slowdown, factors such as the slow recovery of developed economies, rising inputs costs, tight liquidity conditions and rising interest rates pose a downside risk to growth, said Hari Bhartia, president of industry association CII.

CII has sought opening up of multi-brand retail to foreign investment besides increasing foreign direct investment ceiling in insurance and defence. It also asked for changes in land acquisition process to facilitate setting up of new businesses and reforms in agriculture sector.

Another industry body Ficci proposed extension of the tax holiday for export oriented units and industrial units in free-trade zones, besides abolition of surcharge and education cess.

"Keeping in mind the export situation and investments coming into the country, interest rates should not be allowed to harden at this stage," said Rajan Mittal, president of Ficci.

Industrialist Ratan Tata, who was among the group of industrialists that met the minister, emphasised the need to push reforms in agriculture and education, said a person present at the meeting.

Industry chamber Assocham sought an increase in budget allocation for outlay for industries such as education, healthcare, telecommunications, internet and agriculture and extension of infrastructure-related tax incentives these sectors.

The finance minister said the government is conscious of two major concerns relating to the pace of development of infrastructure and investments in research and development.

He invited specific short- and medium-term suggestions from the industry sector for sustaining a double-digit growth in industry and for stepping up the growth of manufactured exports.

Other members of the industry team include Videocon Industries' Venugopal Dhoot, Nasscom president Som Mittal and Asian Paints vice-chairman Ashwin Dani.

"The FM said inflation will have to be brought under control by methods such as increasing production," Venugopal Dhoot said.

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