Journalists covering the Finance Ministry are getting the impression that the prime concentration in North Block is to collect taxes. The few press conferences held by the Ministry in the recent past have almost invariably been on taxation matters and how the taxmen were going after the evaders. At the same time, the current regime has probably been the most active in introducing new taxes in every Budget. The list is fairly long: The Securities Transaction Tax, the Fringe Benefit Tax, the Banking Cash Transaction Tax, the Education Cess, the expanded and increased Service Tax, the Value Added Tax...

Scribes wondering at this taxation spree feel that the Ministry is obviously facing a revenue stress. First, there is pressure to allocate more for social sectors without being able to raise some meaningful resources through disinvestment. Second, potential revenue is being sacrificed through the series of concessions extended under such schemes as the SEZs and FTAs. To overcome the stress, the Finance Ministry possibly turns to its in-house taxation expert the Advisor to the Finance Ministry specialising in tax matters and picked up ideas such as the FBT from other countries.

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(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 21, 2006)
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