New Delhi: “Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will reply to the debate on the Union Budget on Tuesday, in which he is expected to make some minor changes,” a finance ministry official who did not want to be identified said.
This will close the debate on the General Budget and set the stage for the discussion on the proposed spending by the government that precedes adoption of the Finance Bill by Parliament.
During the debate on the General Budget, the opposition parties have expressed apprehensions over the government’s optimism to achieve the 9% growth rate as pointed out by the finance minister, while the ruling Congress MPs urged to do more for the agriculture sector.
Although there is no expectation of announcement of any major changes in Mukherjee’s speech on Tuesday, Pratik Jain, indirect tax head at KPMG said that he may issue some clarifications.
“The finance minister might elaborate a bit more on service tax imposed on Indian Railway and shipping companies as some noise has been created on that front. He may clarify which goods would be exempted from Services tax. He may also issue a few more clarifications on Goods and Service Tax (GST) as there is no detail roadmap in the Budget,” he said.
“There could be some more discussion on GST,” Sudhir Kapadia, tax partner with E&Y said, adding that it is difficult to predict what the finance ministry may do. From the companies point of view, he may tweak the Minimum Alternative Tax (MAT),” Kapadia said. Mukherjee had increased MAT from 10% to 15% in the Budget. Both houses of Parliament will discuss demands for grants in detail later before the Finance Bill is adopted. According to parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, the Lok Sabha is expected to take up the demands for grants of agriculture, consumer affairs and public distribution and food, human resource development, home, defence and power while the Upper House will be discussing the demands for grants of health and family welfare, social justice and empowerment, communication and information technology, road transport and highways and environment ministries. The rest will be guillotined. The government was keen on completing the budget exercise before 31 July, when the vote-on-account presented in February will expire.