Industry wants Jaitley to focus on farm sector

In pre-Budget consultations with Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Tuesday, industry leaders demanded priority for the farm sector to improve agriculture productivity, raise rural incomes and promote inclusive growth. Industry lobbies demanded that tax officers be appraised on performance parameters rather than the tax revenue raised.

“Since a large part of India’s population works in the farm sector, we impressed upon the Finance Minister that rural India needs due focus … and that farm incomes are very important for raising consumption spending in the economy,” Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) President Ajay Shriram told The Hindu.

The Centre’s focus has largely been on the manufacturing sector, improving the ease of doing business and the “Make in India” campaign.

Mr. Jaitley said in his opening remarks that ease of doing business was a high priority, an official release said.

The Minister said work was being carried out on a task given by the Prime Minister to improve India’s ranking on the ease of doing business index, the release said.

“We told the Finance Minister that Gujarat’s experience of bringing over nine lakh hectares of land under drip irrigation has to be taken pan-India, and the Centre should push for augmenting investment in agri-infrastructure and may be even use MGNREGS [Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme] funds for it,” Mr. Shriram said.

Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry President Jyotsna Suri urged Mr. Jaitley to “make earnest efforts to move away from an aggressive revenue approach and provide a genuine non-adversarial and conducive tax environment,” the release said. She demanded that the government set tax revenue targets realistically and exclude tax revenue raised from the performance appraisal parameters of tax officers.

The lobbies wanted the Centre to take up expenditure projects, especially in infrastructure for building new capacities in the economy.

They appreciated the Centre for its efforts to introduce the Constitution Amendment Bill on the Goods and Services Tax, the ‘Make in India’ campaign, fiscal prudence, the direct benefit transfer scheme rollout and subsidy rationalisation. They called for steps for reviving the investment cycle and a slew of tax incentives and concessions.

The Finance Minister must step up efforts to achieve the disinvestment target, expanding it to include strategic sales of loss-making public sector units and also for paring down government stake in public sector banks to 51 per cent with the aim of infusing capital in them, they said.

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Printable version | May 14, 2021 11:31:12 PM |

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