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Arun Jaitley rules out withdrawal of 1 per cent excise duty on gold

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Already the fastest growing major economy in the world, India can grow at an even faster pace this year if predictions of good monsoon hold up, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said today. Replying to a debate on the Finance Bill 2016 which was later passed in the Lok Sabha, Jaitley ruled out rollback of one per cent excise on non-silver jewellery saying the levy was not applicable on small traders and artisans and only jewellers with more than Rs 12 crore turnover will attract the duty.

“I have not been able to understand the politics of hatred for ‘suit’ but love for gold,” he said as he took potshots at Congress which is opposing the levy of excise duty on gold and other previous jewellery. If the Congress had objections to the levy, it can begin by removing the 5 per cent VAT on bullion in Kerala where it rules, he said.

Jaitley, who moved some amendments to the Finance Bill introduced by him on February 28 along with demands for grants and appropriation bill, listed out measures taken by the BJP government in last two years to give relief to small tax payers and reduce tax litigation. On blackmoney, he said government efforts have brought to the books Rs 71,000 crore of undisclosed assets.

He however ruled out bringing agriculture income under the tax net, saying large farm-based income was rare and people using agriculture as front to hide income from other sources would be dealt with tax authorities.

The Bill, which is the penultimate part of the budget exercise, was passed with the amendments by voice vote. While the global outlook remains bleak, Jaitley said India remains the fastest growing major economy in the world. “But we recognise we have the potential to grow at an even faster pace,” he said.

After two years of drought, if forecast of better monsoon rains this year holds good, it will improve agriculture and raise rural income, he said. “Economy which had been expanding on strength of public investment, highest foreign direct investment (FDI) and urban demand, can grow faster if rural demand is added,” he said.

Indian economy grew by 7.6 per cent in 2015-16 and is projected to grow by 7.5 per cent in the current year. Latest forecasts predict above-average rainfall in India after two years of drought.

PTI

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