New Delhi: Terming the process adopted for finalising the Direct Taxes Code (DTC) as landmark, Plan Panel Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said he is not in favour of referring legislative bills to 'expert groups'. "The process that Finance Ministry adopted for DTC was a landmark in terms of transparency and inviting comments. It is true that the DTC was not referred to an expert group," Ahluwalia said.
He further said that "Personally I am not in favour of the referral to expert groups because they take only a particular view above the expert opinion of the country ... The business of appointing groups actually stops the ministry from considering any other view..." Ahluwalia made the comments while replying to a query during the inaugural session of a tax conference organised by the Indian chapter of International Fiscal Association.
The DTC, which seeks to modernise the direct taxation system, will replace the Income Tax Act, 1961. Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had tabled the DTC Bill in Lok Sabha in August 2011 which was then referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for scrutiny.
Although the government is unlikely to introduce the DTC from 1 April, 2012, as planned earlier, it may incorporate some of the provisions of the proposed law in the Budget for 2012-13, to be unveiled on 16 March.
"DTC (draft) was put on website more than three years ago. Groups and associations were invited to comment. Based on those comments the ministry has made the DTC ... All the professionals, the leading associations and the economists had an opportunity to have an input," Ahluwalia said.
He said all this feedback was used to "very substantially" change what was in the original draft, before it was put before the Parliamentary Standing Committee. "My understanding is that the Standing Committee is taking an open approach to this... The ministry itself is open and receptive to inputs," Ahluwalia said.