What are the three things you wish for from the Budget?
Sebi (the Securities and Exchange Board of India) has proposed the draft Reit (real estate investment trust) regulations. The Reit market will not take off without the tax code being amended to allow tax exemption to Reits, which distribute (to shareholders) 90% of the PAT (profit after tax). This is in line with global practices. It is also a great alternative savings platform for retail investors desirous of getting a regular income.
The second would be removal (of) service tax on rentals.
The third would be to unshackle the bond market by amending the TDS (tax deducted at source) requirement.
If you could end one thing, what would that be?
A constitutional amendment that no finance minister or government can propose amnesty schemes to tax evaders.
S. Sriniwasan, chief executive officer, Kotak Realty Fund. (Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/ Mint)
If you were the finance minister, what would be the one thing outside your industry you would want in the Budget?
I would want agricultural income above a threshold, say Rs5 lakh per annum, to be brought under the tax net. A separate fast-track judicial process to clear tax disputes.
What is the one thing you don’t want changed?
Tax on SEZs (special economic zones), which would amount to shifting the goalpost and would send a very negative signal globally. This is precisely the kind of policy stability risk that global investors worry about.
Which budget disappointed you the most? Why?
All budgets which proposed tax amnesty schemes, because the government provided the biggest money laundering machine to tax evaders and (it) is a gross injustice to taxpayers.
One proposal you think is shot down in every budget, but shouldn’t be.
Tax on agricultural income.
What would you consider to be inclusive growth, financial inclusion?
Delivery of quality education and ensuring that the providers of education are treated with respect is a natural path to financial inclusion. The FM (finance minister) may consider a tax exemption of income for all teachers and educationists. After all, if we can provide a tax break for Rs1 lakh crore to SEZs, we need educated people who can work in these.
Making sure that the foundation of the education system (is strong)...and the government getting out of micro management of education will be the right way forward.
S. Sriniwasan is chief executive officer, Kotak Realty Fund.
By Gayatri Ramanathan