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Tax haul edges past last year's figure
March, 30th 2009

Total tax collections this year would exceed the previous year's figure, despite the economic slowdown, revenue secretary P V Bhide said on Friday at the annual session of the CII.

"The gross revenue from direct and indirect taxes will increase nominally despite the sacrifices we have made," he said. The duty cuts that Bhide meant were announced in the wake of the economic slowdown.

Direct tax collections for this fiscal, as of mid-March, were Rs 3,12,800 crore, up nominally from Rs 3,12,202 crore in the same period last fiscal.

On the customs duty side, Bhide pointed out that "the trend was disheartening, suggesting a tough quarter ahead."

As for exports, the year is expected to end with exports worth $170 billion, against a target of $200 billion, said commerce secretary G K Pillai, while speaking at the same session.

The next fiscal (2009-10) would see exports flat, notching up a figure of $170-175 billion, he said.

Meanwhile, cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar stated that "there are trouble times yet to come." Referring to the IMF forecast of India growing 5.1% in 2009 (second in the world after China), he said the country was likely to perform better than that.

Chandrasekhar listed the measures taken by the government for boosting the economy, but admitted, "Inspite of these steps, there's a certain stickiness in the actual bank lending rates." He said there was hardly any response from the private banks, and "we need to look into how the effect of the stimulus package can be carried forward."

The cabinet secretary also urged the industry to look for new markets, as traditional markets would be drying up. The fiscal space, he said, was limited for the government. "We have to make economic crisis a part of history and move on," Chandrasekhar said.

Earlier in the day, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, deputy chairman of the planning commission, said the ongoing crisis was "probably the worst crisis in the last 60 years". It would push the Indian economy off the higher growth trajectory it has seen in the last five years, he said.

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