No relief as PM’s meet skips oil price issue

Stick to fiscal deficit target

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley. (PTI File Photo)

Despite the prices of petrol and diesel hitting the roof, the government on Saturday appeared in no mood to take any step to soften their impact on the common man. No discussion was held in a two-day high-level meeting to review the country’s economy chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

After a two-and-a-half hour meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley told reporters that the meeting on Saturday was not to discuss the oil price rise but only to take a view of the “broad macroeconomic parameters”.

Jaitley even said that the prime minister was satisfied with regard to the broad parameters in relation to the economy, its growth rate and inflation and how the tax collections were panning out.

The meeting was attended by four secretaries of the finance ministry, prime minister’s economic policy advisor and Niti Aayog vice-chairman among others, each of whom gave their presentation.

Jaitley said the government was confident of meeting a higher than budgeted economic growth rate this year. He said the tax collections, both direct and indirect, would be more than what is estimated and the government was also confident of surpassing the disinvestment target of Rs 80,000 crore this year.

He said the government decided not to cut the capital expenditure as this was an election year. “We have already spent 44% of the budgeted capital expenses by August 31 and will end the year without any cut in capital expenses,” he said.

Jaitley also said that the fiscal deficit target of 3.3% will be maintained in the current financial year.

“The CBDT is very clear that this year they will be able to collect in excess of budgeted target,” Jaitley said.

On indirect tax side, he said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is settling down and a pick up in consumption will boost collections in coming months.

“We are confident that between direct and indirect tax collections, the government will comfortably meet the target if not surpass it,” he said, adding the Rs 1 lakh crore disinvestment target will be surpassed.

Asked if fuel prices and duty cuts were discussed, he said the meeting today was internal review meeting.

“The department of revenue made a detailed presentation where the direct tax collections we are already ahead of the schedule...we can now see the impact of all the anti-black money measures which we had taken, the demonetisation and the GST. There is phenomenal increase in the assessee base...in the quantum of advance tax which has been paid,” he said.

The government had in Budget projected direct tax collection of Rs 11.5 lakh crore for 2018-19 fiscal.

On GST, he said the new indirect tax regime is settling down and “with the kind of pick up in consumption which has taken place, obviously will have an impact on GST collections in the future months”.

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No relief as PM’s meet skips oil price issue

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