New Delhi: Advance taxes paid by the top 1,000 companies for the third quarter (16 September-15 December) of the current fiscal increased 42.7% over the corresponding period of the previous year to Rs41,267 crore, signalling a quickening pace of economic activity.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said the economy could grow as much as 7.75% this fiscal, 1.3 percentage points more than last year’s economic growth.

The growth in corporate advance tax numbers for the third quarter of the current fiscal was partly influenced by a statistical base effect as corporate advance tax for the quarter ended 15 December 2008 had shrunk in the wake of the economic slump.

Looking up: North Block, which houses the finance ministry. The ministry oversaw a series of stimulus measures in October-April. Ramesh Pathania / Mint

Advance tax payments by the top 1,000 companies for the first nine months of the current fiscal was Rs95,703 crore, 20% higher than a year earlier.

At the sectoral level, trends in tax payments have begun to change in the current fiscal. Financial services companies, which recorded some of the highest growth rates in advance tax payment last year, have begun to record a slowdown in growth.

State Bank of India (SBI) has displaced Oil and Natural Gas Corp. Ltd as the country’s largest taxpayer. In the third quarter, SBI paid Rs1,795 crore as tax, 5.59% more than the previous year.

State-owned Life Insurance Corp. of India Ltd paid Rs981.45 crore in the third quarter of the current fiscal, up 12.68%. Punjab National Bank paid Rs618 crore for the quarter ended 15 December, an increase of 22.38%.

Manufacturing companies, particularly those in the automobile sector, registered strong growth in the advance tax paid in the third quarter. Maruti Suzuki Ltd paid Rs400 crore in the third quarter of the current fiscal, 196.30% higher than the previous year. Bajaj Auto Ltd paid Rs320 crore, an increase of 204.76%.

Among media companies, Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd was the largest taxpayer in the third quarter of the current fiscal. The company paid Rs145 crore in the quarter, 4,733% more than in the previous year.