Mumbai: Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee’s Budget follows on from proposals he had made in the Finance Bill that he introduced in Parliament in July. Here is a list of some of the measures and the progress made.
Announcement: Will reinforce the Central government’s catalytic role to facilitate the introduction of GST (goods and services tax) by 1 April 2010 after due consultations with all stakeholders.
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Status: The minister hopes to introduce GST by 1 April 2011.
Announcement: The direct tax code (DTC), along with a discussion paper, will be released to the public for debate.
Spurring growth: A ship docked at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port in Mumbai. The scheme to provide enhanced ECGC cover to exporters in badly hit sectors has been extended up to March. Ashesh Shah/Mint
Based on the inputs received, the government will finalize the DTC Bill for introduction in the Lok Sabha sometime during the winter session.
Status: The new DTC was released on 12 August. Discussions with stakeholders are continuing. The minister expects to implement DTC by 1 April 2011.
Announcement: To further enhance efficiency in tax administration, the two authorities for advance rulings on direct and indirect taxes will be merged by amending the relevant Acts. This will enable the Authority for Advance Rulings, set up under Section 245-O of the Income-Tax Act, 1961, to also function as the Authority for Advance Rulings for Indirect Taxes.
Status: Requisite notifications have been issued.
Farm debt waiver
Announcement: Under the Agricultural Debt Waiver and Debt Relief Scheme (2008), farmers with more than 2ha were given till 30 June to pay 75% of their dues. Due to the late monsoon arrival, this period was extended by six months to 31 December.
Status: The government has extended the period of payment.
Announcement: Proposal to prepare a blueprint for long-distance gas highways, leading to a national gas grid to facilitate transportation of gas.
Status: A draft cabinet note has been circulated to the ministries, departments and organizations concerned proposing setting up of a national gas highway development authority and a national centre for natural gas grid management.
Announcement:The agriculture credit flow target for 2009-10 is set at Rs3.25 trillion. Proposes to continue the interest subvention scheme for short-term crop loans to farmers for loans up to Rs3 lakh per farmer at an interest rate of 7% per annum to achieve this. For the year, the government will pay an additional subvention of 1% as incentive to farmers who repay short-term crop loans on schedule. Thus, interest rate will fall to 6% per annum.
Status: The agriculture credit flow being monitored with public sector banks, Reserve Bank of India and National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development at quarterly interval to ensure the target is met. Cabinet approval for budgetary requirement for continued interest subvention obtained in September.
Announcement: Exporters by virtue of their close links to the external sector have borne the brunt of the global economic crisis. They will get assistance to overcome short-term disadvantages.
Status: An adjustment assistance scheme to provide enhanced ECGC (Export Credit and Guarantee Corp. of India Ltd) cover at 95% to badly hit sectors had been initiated in December 2008. Proposal to extend the benefits of this scheme up to March 2010.
Announcement: To ensure balanced application of fertilizers, the government intends to move towards a nutrient-based subsidy regime instead of the current product pricing regime.
Status: New fertilizer policy has been announced.
Announcement: The government will set up an expert group to advise on a viable and sustainable system of pricing petroleum products.
Status: The expert group has submitted its report. The petroleum and natural gas ministry to draw up proposals based on recommendations.
Announcement: The income-tax (I-T) return forms should be simple and user-friendly.
Status: Revision of Saral-II and certain other forms are under way and will be completed well before the date from which current year’s I-T returns are due.
Announcement: While retaining at least 51% government equity in public sector enterprises, proposes to encourage people’s participation in the disinvestment programme.
Status: A policy note on disinvestment was approved by the cabinet committee on economic affairs on 5 November. The disinvestment of Central public sector enterprises will now be pursued as per this policy.
Announcement: The setting up of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) is a major step in improving governance with regard to delivery of public services. The first set of unique identity numbers will be rolled out in 12-18 months.
Status: The Demographic Data Standards and Verification Procedure Committee and the Biometric Standards Committee, constituted by UIDAI, submitted their reports on 9 December and 7 January, respectively, which have been accepted. A sum of Rs1,900 crore has been allocated for the project.
Announcement: The government has decided that India Infrastructure Finance Co. Ltd (IIFCL) will refinance 60% of commercial bank loans for public-private partnership (PPP) projects in critical sectors over the next 15-18 months. IIFCL and banks are now in a position to support projects involving a total investment of Rs1 trillion in infrastructure.
Status: IIFCL had raised tax-free bonds of Rs10,000 crore by 31 March, which would enable the funding of infrastructure projects of about Rs25,000 crore. IIFCL may raise an additional Rs25,000 crore by way of tax-free bonds once funds raised in the current year are effectively utilized. These initiatives will support a PPP of Rs1 trillion in infrastructure at competitive rates over the next 18 months.