New Delhi, Dec 6 (UNI) Finance Minister P Chidambaram today highlighted how several new legislative and administrative measures taken by the government have put government finances on an even keel and assured buoyancy in tax revenues.
He said the ensuing fiscal stability was a result of improvment in tax revenues and tightening expenditure.
Adressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to his Ministry here, Mr Chidambaram said the FRBM Act was passed as soon as the UPA Government came into power and the Department of Revenue was energised to improve tax buoyancy.
He said tax buoyancy was the result of good performance of the Indian economy and the new initiatives taken by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
Speaking about Direct Taxes, Mr Chidambaram said the TDS administration, refund bankers, tax return prepares scheme, large tax payers unit, E-filing of taxes and business process re-engineering were some of the initiatives which have brought an unprecedented growth in tax collections.
He said the atttitude of the people to paying taxes has changed.
The personal income tax grew by 42.5 per cent and corporation tax by 46.6 per cent during April-November 2007 over the corresponding period of last fiscal. The overall direct tax collection growth rate was 44.9 per cent during this period, he said.
Mr Chidambaram said the number of taxpayers in the country has been increasing. While the number of assesses increased from 301.78 lakhs in 2003-04 to 319.26 lakhs in 2006-07, the number of assesses filing return of income increased from 234.25 lakhs to 275.44 lakhs during this period.
The number of PANs as on October 31, 2007 was 5,74,74,806, with around 8 to 9 lakhs PANs being allotted every year. PANs de-duplication has been completed in respect of more than 95 per cent cases.
Mr Chidambaram said the pilot project of State Bank of India acting as a Refund Banker has been extended to four more cities namely, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore, apart from existing cities at Delhi and Patna.
On indirect taxes, the Finance Minister said that customs duty rates were being slashed continuously, while the excise duty rates have been reduced.
He said that the concept of GST-Central and States would come into effect from April 1, 2010 which would avoid the multiplicity of different types of taxes. The various initiatives taken by CBEC like risk management system for customs, automatic clearance of courier consignment, automation of central excise and service tax, e-payment, large tax payer units and streamlining of customs procedures were some of the major initiatives which contributed buoyancy in collection of indirect taxes.
He said during April-October, 2007, customs duty increased by 17.4 per cent, central excise by 7.6 per cent and service tax by 36.3 per cent over the corresponding period of 2006-2007.
Overall collections of indirect taxes grew by 15 per cent during this period.
The meeting was attended by Mr K.V. Thangka Balu, M. Sreenivasulu Reddy, P.C. Thomas and Dr. C. Krishnan from Lok Sabha and Rajkumar Dhoot, Bimal Jalan, S.M. Laljan Basha, and B.J. Panda from Rajya Sabha. The Ministers of State for Finance-- Mr S S Palanimanickam and Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal also attended the meeting.