The Mint Report for 22 March 2011

The Mint Report for 22 March 2011

After the days of being mired in political crisis, the UPA is trying to get on with the business of Parliament. On Tuesday it introduced two key legislations the bill for the goods and services tax and another one on banking reform.

The GST bill is an attempt to integrate India into a single market by removing tax barriers between states. Meanwhile Tuesday’s banking bill would give the Reserve Bank the extra powers needed to award banking licenses to industrial houses.

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Also on Tuesday, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee started the long-awaited discussion on the finance bill. Within minutes Mukherjee announced his government was rolling back a 5% service tax it had proposed for some high-end hospitals. But Mukherjee indicated the proposed GST would bring them back into the tax net.

The discussion on the finance bill comes at a time when the budget session of Parliament could be cut short. It’s now scheduled to be adjourned on Friday. The original plan was for a three-week recess before reconvening from 4 April to 21 April.

Moving on, fuel prices may be taking off, but so is growth in airline passenger traffic. Overall growth on domestic routes in February stood at 18.5%. That amounts to 4.57 million passengers.

Here’s how some of India’s domestic airlines fared. Air India’s domestic passenger traffic increased 15.8%, while Kingfisher’s went up 19%. IndiGo saw an 18.7% increase and Spice Jet’s growth was at 13.8%.

Indian markets broke a three-day losing streak on Tuesday to end with robust gains. The Sensex surged 149 points to finish at 17,988. And the Nifty jumped 49 to close at 5,414.