Nirmala Sitharaman says Centre has no more announcements to make; rules out any cut in income tax rates

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday poured cold water over expectations of any more economic relief measures in the near future and said the Centre has no more announcements to make.

Sitharaman also confirmed to News18 in an exclusive interview that the Centre was not looking at taxation-related matters, be it indirect or direct, on being asked about whether there can be any reduction in income tax.

The finance minister, who had over the last week announced an economic package-Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan, to help revive the economy, said how the coronavirus and the lockdown has hurt revenues is yet to be completely assessed. “Can’t even think of what to forego,” she replied on taxation relief.

 Nirmala Sitharaman says Centre has no more announcements to make; rules out any cut in income tax rates

Nirmala Sitharaman. Pic courtesy: News18

She added that only once the lockdown is lifted completely and industries reopen will the assessment be over. “Currently, there is a lot of uncertainty as we don’t know how long the pandemic is here to stay.”

The government’s economic package had included a reduction of the tax deducted at source for non-salaried income by 25 percent of the existing rates along with tax collected at source, and also pushed back the due dates for Income Tax Returns for 2019-20. But contrary to expectations, it did not entail any tweaks in GST rates or personal income tax cuts.

On the huge job cuts in both the formal as well as the informal sectors because of the lockdown, Sitharaman said it was the job of "local labour departments to step up and record data on who all are coming. How many jobs are required and in what sectors."

Questioned on retrenchments taking place even after the Centre urging employers not to do so, she said the states will have hold consultation with the private sector.

Talking about criticism for not allocating cash to the poor, Sitharaman said giving cash in the hands of the poor, especially migrants, is not the only solution and added that government is looking for labour reforms and it is subject to the Parliament scrutiny.

"The first message to the needy was cash distribution. The first package was the one which was immediately announced (in March) and it was to ensure that no one goes hungry," she said.

Rubbishing claims that there's no absence of co-ordination between states with respect to migrant labour issues, the finance minister said migrant labour-related issues are now the responsibility of states and local bodies.

Updated Date: May 21, 2020 08:08:10 IST



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