NATIONAL

Kelkar report: Chidambaram for consensus

NEW DELHI, JULY 24. The Union Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram, has called for a debate and a consensus on the Kelkar Task Force recommendations to enable him to launch "big bang" tax reforms in the next budget.

Addressing a meeting organised by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry here today, the Minister said he did not launch big ticket tax reforms in this year's budget as the Kelkar report was not available for public debate.

"There are still seven months to go for the next budget. Let us deliberate on the proposals of the task force and arrive at a consensus," Mr. Chidambaram said. The Kelkar panel had suggested radical changes in direct and indirect taxes and he wanted know the views of industry before incorporating them in the budget. He also called for a consensus on the Rakesh Mohan Committee report on rationalisation of small savings instruments. This Committee had recommended an immediate reduction in the interest rates on small saving schemes by 50 basis points and called for linking small saving instruments to market rates and benchmarking them to Central Government bonds. Mr. Chidambaram said he as well as the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, were deeply committed to widening and deepening economic reforms. "We are committed to reforms, unshackling the economy and opening the doors for investment both domestic and foreign."

The Minister had a dig at the Bhartiya Janata Party saying that while he had no problem working with the Left parties, he had problems with the BJP as it wavered and changed its stand on issues such as foreign direct investment.

"The Left has consistency in its approach. The BJP keeps changing its stand on foreign investment," he remarked.

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