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Farewell to finance

Farewell to finance

New Delhi: Even as “reluctant" P. Chidambaram took charge of the home ministry, replacing Shivraj Patil, following terrorist attacks on Mumbai, the former finance minister said there is unfinished work in the finance ministry too.

“There is unfinished work in this (finance) ministry too, especially in this critical year," Chidambaram said while speaking at his last press conference as finance minister at the North Block on Monday morning.

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/Content/Videos/2008-12-02/0112_FM Last Day_Pkg_MINT_TV.flve66e0466-bfbf-11dd-a147-000b5dabf613.flvA much-awaited reform is the introduction of goods and service tax (GST), which will converge all indirect tax levies into a single tax. Chidambaram had first announced this in 2006 and his departure may delay the new tax regime.

Other major economic reforms that may get stuck in Chidambaram’s absence are opening up the pension sector, tax exemption to Special Economic Zones (SEZs), and reforms in banking, corporate debt, disinvestment and others.

He said he was “disinclined" when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh conveyed the decision to him. However, he “answered the call of duty" following the decision of Congress President Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister.

Though he did not elaborate, reforms in various spheres such as banking, pension, insurance and taxes are awaited.

To a query on the income tax code, he said the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) will release the discussion paper on the code at an appropriate time. The direct tax code will replace and simplify over four-decade-old Income Tax Act among other pieces of legislations.

Video by Rahul Sharma

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