Indian newspapers carried the following stories related to the budget in their print or Web editions on Thursday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. LATEST STORIES:
*India may extend tax benefits on exports earnings of tech firms operating from the Software Technology Parks of India by a year to March 31, 2010 -- The Times of India.
*The budget may announce creation of a 300 billion rupees national gas highway scheme to build a 6,000 kilometer gas pipeline grid that would criss-cross the country. The government plans to help its funding by levying a cess on gas supplies. -- Hindustan Times
*India may give incentives to insurance firms to park funds in infrastructure companies -- Hindustan Times.
*India is considering providing tax rebate on home loan repayment even before the borrower gets possession of his property -- Financial Chronicle.
*India's finance ministry is considering a pre-Budget proposal suggesting deduction for retail investments into IPOs under section 80C of the Income Tax Act --DNA.
* Government may announce a special policy package for the rural economy to help it withstand the effects of delayed and deficient rains -- Business Standard.
* India is likely to unveil a road map for returning to fiscal discipline in the next two years -- The Economic Times.
* India budget may include a roadmap for decontrolling fuel prices and set the agenda of how oil companies would be allowed to fix retail prices of at least autofuel, petrol and diesel in a phased decontrol programme -- The Economic Times.
* India may announce a road map to phase out the securities transaction tax paid by share market investors -- The Economic Times.
* Government is considering a proposal to streamline rates applicable for tax deducted at source. At present, there are multiple tax rates for TDS starting from one percent to over 30 percent -- Business Standard.
* Government may allow companies to monetise efficient energy consumption practices in their industrial projects. The mechanism will be similar to trading in carbon credits. -- Mint.
* India is likely to substantially hike outlay for the market development fund to promote exports to Latin American and African countries. At present, the fund size is about 3 billion rupees per annum -- Business Standard.
*The government may raise excise duty rates across the board, sparing only select sectors such as small-scale industries and automobiles in the upcoming budget. Steel and cement could see the excise duty go up to 12 percent -- The Economic Times.
*Indian finance ministry is considering a proposal to extend the tax exemption on inter-corporate dividends further down the chain of corporate subsidiaries in the upcoming Union Budget -- Business Standard.
*Consumer goods companies expect continued focus on rural areas via employment guarantees schemes and profitable supply of funds to the rural sector.
*Firms also expect selective cuts in excise duty to 0 percent as incentive for companies providing energy-efficient goods and for marketers expanding into rural markets not connected by good roads and infrastructure -- Business Standard.
*IT sector is hopeful of getting an extension of tax breaks under the Software Technology Park of India Act beyond 2010.
*The government plans to restore the 4 percent excise duty on steel and cement in the budget, which was removed as part of the stimulus packages -- Times of India.
*The government is set to spend 85-90 billion rupees on recapitalising public sector banks this year -- Hindustan Times.
*Auto industry has sought rationalisation of excise duties for cars which is currently biased towards small cars, asking for a uniformity of taxation across segments -- Hindustan Times.
*The service tax is expected to be retained at 10 percent -- Financial Express.
*India may lower interest rate on loans to farmers who repay their crop loan on time to 6 percent from 7 percent -- Financial Chronicle.
*India may cut interest rates on small savings schemes by 50-75 basis points. They currently earn 8 percent -- The Economic Times.
*The government is considering a proposal to hike income-tax exemption available for interest payment on home loans to 250,000 rupees a year from 150,000 rupees -- The Economic Times.
*The government may do away with the fringe benefit tax and also remove cess and surcharge on corporate taxes. Instead, it may levy a common rate of direct tax on corporate income from this fiscal year -- The Economic Times.
*The gross budgetary support for social sector may be raised to around 3.35 trillion rupees, 500 billion rupees more than the amount fixed in the interim budget -- The Financial Express.