Thu, 01 Oct 2020

New Delhi [India], Dec 2 (ANI): Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday dismissed opposition charges about the BJP-led government being insensitive, saying it takes criticism and responds to it.

Replying to the debate on the Taxation Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2019, Sitharaman also said the government has stuck to fiscal discipline and there has been an increase of 5 per cent in gross direct tax collection up to November 2019.

The Bill was later passed by the House.

The minister said she has been unfairly targeted on her performance, including on social media, but has not responded.

"To say the government is not willing to hear criticism is unfair. We take criticism. We respond to criticism. We hear, we listen," she said.

She said it is important for the government to know and hear various voices.

Noting that the government takes criticism in its stride, she referred to the comments made by an industrialist pertaining to the government in the presence of Home Minister Amit Shah at an event last week.

She said it is this government where the Prime Minister and the Ministers have been pilloried. "This government responds positively," said she.

Participating in the debate, Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said that a reason GDP was going down was because "investors and industrialists don't have faith."He said that industrialists have spoken of fear. "The atmosphere of fear needs to be obviated," he said.

Sitharaman also rejected criticism about the government bringing an ordinance and said it taken "proactive measures" to make reduce corporate tax in to compete with emerging markets as an investment destination and with companies looking to move out of China in the wake of its trade war with the US.

She noted that the Congress-led government had brought 77 ordinances between 1991 and '96.

Sitharaman made a veiled reference to Rober Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, and said there was no "Jijaji" in the BJP and all were workers.

She said the Congress was complementing itself for opposing India joining the RCEP but said the country had signed the Bali agreement during its rule which would have prevented farmers from getting the minimum support price (MSP) and distribution of PDS but for the corrective steps taken by the Modi government.

She said the government was working to make India a far more investment-friendly destination.

She accused the Congress of shedding crocodile tears on the privatisation of PSUs and blamed it for the problems of BSNL.

Noting the BSNL was a strategic asset, the minister said the UPA government had not given the organisation any money to buy 4G spectrum.

"BSNL is saved because of us now," she said.

Referring to the points made by opposition members, the minister said that GST collections have not come down.

She said the government has followed the fiscal discipline and the average fiscal deficit in 5 years of previous BJP-led government was 3.68 compared to 6.70 in 2009-10.

"We have taken care of fiscal discipline," she said.

Referring to criticism of GDP growth coming down to 4.5 per cent in the July-September quarters, she said it had come to 4.3 per cent in the UPA rule and again went to over 7 per cent. "You have set the precedent," she said.

The Bill provides a new provision in the I-T Act from this fiscal that an existing domestic company may opt to pay tax at 22 per cent plus surcharge at 10 per and cess at 4 per cent if it does not claim any incentive.

The effective tax rate for these companies comes to 25.17per cent for these companies. They would also not be subjected to Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT).

The Bill also provides that a domestic manufacturing company set up on or after October 1, 2019, and which commences manufacturing by March 31, 2023, may opt to pay tax at 15 per cent plus surcharge at 10 per cent and cess at 4 per cent if it does not claim any deduction. The effective rate of tax comes to 17.16 per cent for these companies. (ANI)

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