India's finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that there was no need for unnecessary pessimism as far as 5% GDP growth is concerned. After interacting with tax officials and industry leaders, Sitharaman said in Kolkata that 5% GDP growth rate has raised the alarm across various circles. But the FM made it clear that, during the UPA regime too in 2012-13, GDP growth was around that level only. “This is not the lowest in a decade,” she added.
However, Sitharaman pointed out that, at the same time, the Centre is not underestimating the needs of various sectors. “We are looking at challenges that different sectors are facing and we are trying to solve them. We are openly engaging with these sectors,” she added.
On the GST cut in the stressed automobile sector, the FM made it clear that the GST Council has to take a call in this regard. She also reiterated that there will be no reduction in social sector spending, which was promised in the Budget. “As far as tax collection is concerned, targets are given to various departments and boards after due considerations,” she added.
Commenting on transfer of the RBI’s emergency funds to the central exchequer, she added that the government is yet to take a call on the utilisation of this fund. “How it will be utilised, we are yet to decide,” she said. Sitharaman also assured industrialists that the Centre is rolling out different steps to check tax terrorism and discretion-based tax assessment.
Replying to a question on the Cafe Coffee Day owner’s suicide and tax terrorism, she categorically said the whole process should be transparent and system-driven. “We are adopting more system-driven methods so that the assessment process becomes faceless,” she said.
Towards this end, the FM said that during this festive season, the Centre will take twin steps to convert tax assessment. These are randomising the scrutiny using big data analysis from Bijoya Dashami (Dussehra) and, from October, rolling out a DIN-based issue of notice. “In the new system, the whole scrutiny will be system-driven. Like, some assessees in Kolkata may be scrutinised by an officer in Madurai,” she added.