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Government to discuss tax concerns of industry groups
July, 17th 2013

Finance minister P. Chidambaram announced on Wednesday the setting up of a mechanism to discuss tax-related, sector-specific concerns raised by industry groups and other associations to improve the dialogue between government and companies.

From the government’s side, Parthasarathi Shome, adviser to the finance minister, will meet industry groups and associations once a week and take note of their concerns. This will only be a forum for the concerns of a particular industry and not individual cases.

“There is a merit for having an institutional, structured mechanism to hear concerns of industry groups. At present, we get to hear about their concerns only once a year during the pre-budget discussions,” Chidambaram said at a press briefing after meeting the chief commissioners and directors general of customs, central excise and service tax.

Expressing confidence that the government will meet the revenue collection targets for the current fiscal, Chidambaram warned that “non-filers”, those who do not pay taxes, and “stop filers”, those who used to pay taxes but have stopped, will be targeted.

“In service tax, the number of non-filers and stop filers is exceeding Rs.12 lakh. We are going to target them,” he said.

Of the indirect tax target of Rs.5.63 trillion for 2013-14, more than Rs.1.80 trillion has to come from service tax collections.
Given the lukewarm response to the service tax voluntary compliance encouragement scheme in this year’s budget, the finance minister said the tax department would run an awareness campaign to encourage assessees to take advantage of it.

Under the scheme, any service provider who has not paid service tax dues can do so without having to pay interest and penalty. The government will shortly issue a list of frequently asked questions to provide clarity about the scheme, he said.

The finance minister also said that the government is taking steps to address manpower issues with a proposal for cadre restructuring of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC) to be taken up in the Cabinet soon. The government has to fill almost 700 vacancies above the assistant commissioner level in CBEC.

On a new chairman for the empowered committee of state finance ministers, Chidambaram said that the Union government and state finance ministers will choose a new head at a meeting on 22 July in New Delhi. The post fell vacant after Sushil Kumar Modi stepped down after resigning as the deputy chief minister of Bihar.

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