A Correspondent

The Minister promised to restructure the tax system and sought help prevent

tax evasion.

Nedumbassery: In an effort to turn the State into a major shopping destination by 2020, the government will soon launch a trade development mission to promote trading activity in the State, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac has said.

Addressing a budget review session organised by the Kerala Merchants' Union at Aluva on Thursday, the Minister said the mission envisaged identifying the potential areas and setting up of new shopping centres apart from renovating the existing ones to promote shopping activity.

It would also require fair trade practices along with higher standards of cleanliness in the shopping areas, he said.

The government will also take steps to ensure easy credit to the sector by bringing the Kerala Finance Corporation outside the ambit of the SEBI act to promote lending of working capital.

He sought to depart from the conventional view that developing the trade sector should be done by improving production in the agriculture and manufacturing sector and said that the present State budget considered trade and commerce as a developmental activity in themselves that would in turn lead to enhanced production in related sectors.

Emphasising the need for a level playing field to ensure tax buoyancy, he promised to take steps to remove anomalies in the existing tax structure.

The Minister also promised to restructure the tax system and called upon the trade and commerce organisations to cooperate with the government in preventing tax evasion.

Mr. Isaac highlighted the need for implementing a competitive tax structure for the tourism sector in Kerala to promote tour packages and said the government targeted an increase in tax revenue by 20 per cent by increasing the efficiency in collection.

Earlier, he attended a representation on the budget by office-bearers of various trading organisations in the State and assured them that efforts would be made to address their grievances.