Ahead of the Budget, here's a compilation of demands, expectations and other tax-related stories in newspapers this morning.
8500 I-T officers won't conduct raids or surveys till long-pending demands are met
The finance minister P Chidambaram's request to shore up tax collections and achieve the budgeted target of Rs 5.7 lakh crore may take a set back as over 8,500 Income Tax officers have announced a nationwide agitation to draw the government's attention to their long-pending demands, an Economic Times report said today.
No members of the association will pass any assessment order from today, and from February 20 onwards, they will not participate in any raids, survey and recovery action, making the tax recovery process even more difficult.
According to the report, the demands include expediting cader restructuring and promotions, upgrading of pay scales, filling up vacancies and providing new laptops along with a data card. Read more here.
Govt may 'undershoot' revised fiscal deficit
Even though finance minister P Chidambaram has hinted at spending cuts for several ministries along with a clamp down on planned spending on long-term development programmes, some economists have questioned the quality of such fiscal adjustments as it would come at the cost of delaying implementation of social and economic development programmes, a Wall Street Journal report points out.
However, some others like Nomura's Sonal Varma have lauded the government's efforts to reign in the fiscal deficit and feel that the recent reform measures as well as belt tightening may even result in 'undershooting' of the revised 5.3 percent fiscal deficit. Read more here.
Retail sector counts on supply reforms
Lamenting that high indirect taxes are crushing the retail and FMCG sector, industry leaders are demanding that the government reconsider the current rates of service taxes and excise duties in this year's Budget.
In an interview with CNBC-TV18, Kishore Biyani, chief executive officer, Future Group, says, "The service tax which has been levied on the rental on properties should be a vettable tax. We should also get the input credit or output credit that are there."
Harsh Mariwala, chairman and managing director, Marico on the other hand said, "I think there are some key challenges. The Finance Minister has to reduce the fiscal deficit and current account deficit. He has to ensure inflation doesn't increase and improve supply side reforms."
Govt likely to miss disinvestment target, total tally stands at Rs 21,500 cr
Despite Oil India and NTPC's successful offer on share sale, the government may fail to meet its disinvestment target of Rs 30,000 crore this fiscal.
While, Hindustan Copper, NMDC and Oil India issues have got the government close to Rs 10,000 crore, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) issue has garned around Rs 11,500 crore, taking the total tally to only Rs 21,500 crore.
There is likely to be no more disinvestment in February, the next issue will be National Aluminium Company Limited (NALCO) in mid March. However, the finance ministry has already started work on the pipeline for next year. Coal India, Nuclear Power Corporation and Hindustan Aeronautics are the prime candidates. The target for FY14 is also likely to be around Rs 30000 crore too, said a CNBC-TV18 report.
IT wants more clarity on transfer pricing norms
V Balakrishnan, Infosys BPO head in a Reuters column, has jotted down the Budget wishlist for the IT sector this morning, which include clarity on transfer pricing norms, exempting software exporters from paying CENVAT taxes and passage the Electronic Delivery of Services Bill introduced in parliament in 2011 in order to ensure adoption of IT in the government . Read more here