Tribune news service
New Delhi, December 30th
Union Treasury Secretary Nirmala Sitharaman chaired pre-budget consultations with state finance ministers on Thursday. A number of prime ministers and deputy prime ministers attended the meeting in addition to senior state and Center officials.
Union Finance Minister TV Somanathan welcomed attendees and briefed them on the importance of this special consultation meeting, an official press release said.
Most of the participants thanked the Union Treasury Secretary for providing financial support to their states / UTs during the worst months of the pandemic by increasing credit limits, granting states successive loans, and providing special aid for investments.
The participants also made numerous suggestions for inclusion in the budget speech to the Union Finance Minister. Proposals included increased R&D spending, infrastructure status for digital services, streamlining income tax plates, investing in online security measures, and incentivizing hydrogen storage and fuel cell development.
On income tax, some state treasury ministers felt that the income tax tokens saw too much jump from 5 percent to the 20 and 30 percent stamps. The multiple surcharges on some records drive the income tax rate to over 40 percent. Noting that the center has already slashed corporate tax rates to improve compliance and attract more industry, it felt that such an approach could be applied to income tax blocks as well.
State finance ministers also called for digital services infrastructure status in line with the vision of transforming India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. Some of the digital services that require this status are internet backbone, broadband, cellular, cloud services and software, operational security, user identity and data encryption.
Sitharaman thanked the participants for their contributions and suggestions on the Union budget 2022-23 and promised to consider each of the suggestions, the press release said.
The finance minister had previously met stakeholders from seven broad sectors in eight interactions. Some of the areas represented at these meetings with Sitharaman were agriculture, industry, infrastructure and climate change, financial sector and capital markets, services and trade, social sector, trade unions and work organization, and economists.