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Events 2000

Sinha cranks up feel-good factor
Against the backdrop of five State Assembly elections this year, the Finance Minister, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, has managed to present a ``responsive'' budget addressing the cross-sectional concerns of the taxpayers, the industry and the farmers.

Relief for taxpayers
The Union Finance Minister, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, today provided a minor relief to the income tax payee by withdrawing surcharges, barring the Gujarat cess, but kept the rates at the previous levels.

Agricultural sector reforms to be speeded up
The following are excerpts from the Union Budget speech delivered by the Finance Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, on February 28, 2001: Sir, I rise to present the Budget for the year 2001-2002. The challenges we face this year are awesome, made more so by the tragedy and devastation caused by the Gujarat earthquake. I hope I shall get the understanding and support of the whole House in my endeavour to meet these challenges.

Review of Essential Commodities Act
Increased production and rising productivity makes the proper management of the food economy more critical then ever before. Our policy has to be transformed to deal with surpluses rather than only shortages. I propose, therefore, to give an enlarged role to the State Governments in both procurement and distribution of foodgrains for PDS in their respective States.

Steps to liberalise capital account
Banking sector reforms have proceeded apace in a phased manner over the past decade. However, the problem of non-performing assets with banks has continued. Special attention is being paid to recovery of NPAs:

Apparel parks to be set up
The new Credit Guarantee Scheme of August 2000 has been provided budgetary support of Rs 100 crore in the current year. The limit of loan without collateral which was earlier fixed at Rs 10 lakh has been raised to Rs 25 lakh under this scheme.

Measures to improve tax compliance
Sir, I now present my tax proposals, indirect taxes first. In my earlier budgets, I have endeavoured to ensure a continuity of approach in framing my revenue proposals. The principles that have guided me have been the need for growth in revenues, simplification and rationalisation of the tax regime, and effective tax compliance through measures, which are friendly for the honest taxpayer, and a deterrent to the evader.

 Duty on edible crude oil up
Similarly, I propose to increase the rate of duty on crude edible oils ranging from 35 per cent to 55 per cent at present to a uniform rate of 75 per cent and on refined oils from 45-65 per cent to 85 per cent. A lower rate of 45 per cent would apply to soyabean oil on account of WTO binding.

New manual for Central Excise
I propose to withdraw the exemption from customs duty on a few items and impose on them a nominal duty of 5 per cent. I have already promised that our customs tariff would be brought down to East Asian levels. I will like to move progressively within three years to reduce the number of rates to the minimum with a peak rate of 20 per cent. The modalities for this will be worked out in time for the next Budget.

Sops for IT sector
Sir, I also propose to provide relief to salaried persons in the lower income range having income up to Rs 1 lakh. Such persons will get an enhanced tax rebate at the rate of 30 per cent in respect of their eligible investments under Section 88 of the Income-Tax Act, as against 20 per cent at present.

LTTE, Lashkar among 21 outfits banned in U.K.
Twenty-one terrorist organisations, including the Babbar Khalsa, International Sikh Youth Federation, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Taiba, LTTE and the Al Qaida, have been banned in the U.K. under the new Terrorism Act 2000. The Home Secretary, Mr. Jack Straw, announced this in the House of Commons here today.

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