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Stressed sectors are being identified: Govt hints at another stimulus package

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New Delhi, Nov 02: The Central government is preparing another stimulus package and is now looking at sector-specific interventions, reports said on Monday.

"We are continuously monitoring the ground situation and the government will come out with whatever measures needed. We have come out with assistance relating to cash, food, and have provided liquidity to MSMEs and issued tax refunds, deferred tax payments, etc," Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey said on Monday.

 Ajay Bhushan Pandey and Nirmala Sitharaman

To promote domestic manufacturing in electronics, mobile, pharma and medical devices, the government is giving production linked incentives, Pandey said.

"Stimulus is not a one-time affair; it's not that one size fits all. It's time-to-time interventions with apt measures," he added.

In signs of the economy continuing to reflate, the government's tax collections have picked up and high-frequency activity indicators continue to improve on the back of the government's targeted Covid-19 stimulus.

The gross direct tax collection in April-October period of the current fiscal stood at Rs 4.95 trillion, down 22 per cent over the same period last fiscal.

While corporate tax collection fell 26 per cent to Rs 2.65 trillion, personal income tax collection was 16 per cent lower at Rs 2.34 trillion.

GST collection in April-October period of the current fiscal stood at Rs 5.59 trillion, 20 per cent lower than the collection in the same period last fiscal.

Notwithstanding the dip in revenues, the government has issued Rs 1.27 trillion worth of income tax refunds and Rs 70,000 crore GST refunds so far this fiscal.

"In last 7 months, a total Rs 2 trillion refund was issued. This was during the time when our collection was less," Pandey said.

He said the focus on faceless assessment, third-party information gathering and sharing of data between various agencies has helped improve tax collection by making it difficult for people to evade taxes.

"So the tendency to take advantage of the information asymmetry and take risk of tax evasion would be much much lower," he said.

Pandey said the department is collecting third-party information like taxpayer's consumption pattern, bank statement, mutual fund and share transaction, property transaction, import, export and foreign remittances.

"The economic impact of pandemic would have been much more if our tax collection system had not improved. During the last year, we have taken measures like faceless assessment, faceless appeal, SFT (statement of financial transactions), restriction on cash withdrawal by imposing TDS (tax deducted at source).

"So the unscrupulous people who were evading taxes, now it has become harder for them. These would incentivise people to furnish correct tax information," he said.

The system analyzes the information asymmetry and issues red flags. So the risk premium is very high on tax evasion. We are sure that now the tendency to take risk of under-disclosure or non-disclosure of income would be much lower, Pandey added.

The government had in May announced a Rs 20 trillion 'Aatmanirbhar Bharat' stimulus package to boost the economy.

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    Last month, a Rs 73,000 crore package, including advance payment of a part of wages to central government employees and cash in lieu of leave travel concession (LTC), was announced to stimulate consumer demand and investment in the economy damaged by the coronavirus pandemic.

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