Our Bureau

Bangalore, Feb. 12

THE Union Budget will continue its pursuit of tax reforms and meeting the goals prescribed in the common minimum programme, according to the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh.

At a press conference here on Saturday, Dr Singh said, "We are moving to a tax system that is moderate and will have a wide base." The Budget for the next fiscal year, 2005-06, will also focus on raising the tax to gross domestic product ratio of the country.

While the Budget exercise is still confidential, he underlined the broad contours and hinted that the Government is likely to rationalise tax exemptions and rates. "We have too many exemptions and too many rates," said Dr Singh.

Dr Singh said that his government was determined to root out corruption in the country. He said that one of the major elements leading to corruption at the bureaucracy were the exemption and rates in the tax system. He said, " Tax rationalisation is necessary to prevent arbitrary decision by bureaucrats."

Referring to research and development, the Prime Minister said the Government was committed to a regime of technological self-sufficiency. He said the Government was pushing for raising expenditure on R&D to 2 per cent of the GDP from 1 per cent currently.

The Budget will also focus on urban renewal, said Dr Singh. This will prepare for creating world-class infrastructure in select cities in the country. This includes the metro railway system in Bangalore. "We will examine a public-private participation on the lines of the Delhi Metro."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated February 13, 2005)
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