Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday promised more concessions in income tax when the economy improves.
“We do not want a high taxation regime. It was because of the high taxation regime of the previous government that inflation rose.
“I think there was never a Union Budget since 1947, which gave relief up to Rs 50,000 across all three classes of tax payers — right from lower to the middle and higher income brackets,” he told Rajat Sharma on India TV, according to a release issued by the channel.
The Finance Minister said had the government more money in its coffers, he would have given more reliefs. “May be, if the government has more money tomorrow, I will raise (reliefs),” he said.
He expected tax payers to spend more, save more which would lead to higher economic growth and give a boost to the manufacturing sector that had seen a negative growth in the last two years.
Jaitley defended the government’s decision to allow 49 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in defence sector saying he would prefer companies headed by Indians with 49 per cent FDI manufacturing defence equipments in India rather than opting for imports.
“As far as I know, it was Soniaji (Congress President) who had been opposing 49 per cent FDI in defence and was preferring imports of defence equipments,” he said.
Jaitley, who also holds the Defence portfolio, pointed out that 26 per cent FDI in defence was permitted during the NDA regime under Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“We are the largest importer of defence equipment in the world. For the last one and half months, most of the foreign leaders who came to meet us were pitching for sale of their defence equipments,” he said.
The Minister said it would be wiser if there were companies with 51 per cent Indian equity, getting foreign technology and investment and manufacturing defence equipment here.
He made a veiled attack on the Nehru-Gandhi family over some Congress leaders objecting to Rs 200 crore allocated in the Budget for the Sardar Patel statue project in Gujarat.
“I would rather want hundreds of memorials for Sardar Patel across India. I consider Patel as the tallest leader since independence. It was he who brought about the merger of 550 princely states within two and half years of independence,” Jaitley said.
He said Jawaharlal Nehru took up one issue– Jammu and Kashmir–“and look where we are today on Kashmir.”
The Minister said the Centre must contribute to the Gujarat’s project erecting the world’s tallest statue in the Narmada river for which he would like state governments to also contribute.
He said Congress leaders were objecting may be because Patel did not belong to a particular family.
On former finance minister P Chidambaram’s statement that the Budget speech was only a reiteration of Congress’ government’s policies and targets, Jaitley said, “I would then be very happy, if the Congress supports our budget but I know they won’t support. The UPA government had left the economy in a mess.”
On introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST), he said states had reservations about getting their dues after the new levy is introduced.
“After we pay off their bills (dues of states), we will then introduce this GST. This will increase our GDP, reduce tax evasion and also reduce undue harassment to industry,” he said.