India Inc seems to have nothing new or interesting to say with regard to the upcoming Union Budget. On Wednesday, presidents of the country's two prominent industry chambers, CII and Ficci, met Finance Minister P Chidambaram for a customary pre-Budget consultation along with other industry representative.
But apart from a handful of new mentions, their talking points were similar to issues raised in most preceding years. Not only has the Government stolen much of the thunder of the Budget exercise by announcing rail fare hikes (which should have come in the Railway Budget) and postponing GAAR (General Anti Avoidance Rules) till 2016 outside the actual Budget announcement, repetitive industry demands year after year make the entire Budget a big yawn.
So like before, the chambers cautioned against lowering import duties so that domestic industry remains safeguarded, sought early implementation of the GST regime, spoke against any levy on transactions on the commodity exchanges and pleaded for no hike in corporate tax. Nothing new here.
They went a step ahead and responded to rumours of imposition of some kind of inheritance tax this year and, predictably, opposed it in strong terms. Naina Lal Kidwai of Ficci said such a tax should not be imposed "in a hurry and without extensive debate which must necessarily encompass the societal ramifications as these are likely to be significant." Godrej also opposed it but justified this opposition by merely saying that such a tax would not bring any significant wealth to exchequer while dampening investor sentiment.
Inheritance tax is a levy paid by a person who inherits money or property, or a tax on the estate (total value of the money and property) of a person who has died. When one dies, the government assesses the worth of the estate of the deceased, which may include cash in the bank, investments and any other property or business owned by the deceased.
Then, perhaps mindful of the fact that the list of demands is rather long winded, both Ficci and CII showed their large heartedness by saying that current levels of excise duties could be maintained, they need not be lowered. Both Adi Godrej and Kidwai alluded to the current fiscal situation to say industry would be okay if the excise duties (which were raised to 12 percent last Budget from 10 percent) were maintained at the higher 12 percent slab.