India has had 25 finance ministers since Independence in 1947 who have presented and passed in Parliament 83 Budgets — both interim and annual — so far.
In Budget 1994-95, Dr. Manmohan Singh introduced Service Tax at the rate of 5 per cent as the sector was contributing 40 per cent of GDP. The idea was to widen the indirect tax base. The tax was levied on telephones, non-life insurance and stockbrokers. The coverage of the levy has since been expanded year after year. The Budget was presented three years after the the Narasimha Rao Government’s epochal 1991 Budget and economic liberalisation policy packages were unveiled. Dr. Singh started the speech with taking note of how the economic situation had considerably improved in these three years. The Budget was largely devoted to steps for reviving industrial growth which had remained sluggish.
The inflation rate, which was 17 per cent in August 1991, had dropped to almost half by the time this budget was presented on February 28, 1994
“This Budget is inspired by a firm conviction that India has all the material and human resources to be a front-ranking nation of the world. We are on the threshold of a new century, indeed a new millennium. There are tremendous opportunities, provided we have the wisdom and foresight to seize them. There are also immense dangers if we falter or appear indecisive,” he said.