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FM: India continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but there is still potential to grow at a much faster pace; more incentives to agriculture sector for increasing both agriculture production and productivity.

The Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley said that India continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in the world, but there is still potential to grow at a much faster pace. He said that the world economy is passing through an uncertain and fragile situation. The Finance Minister said that all the major economic organisations including IMF have predicted low growth for the world economy in the coming year. He said that these developments have implications on India’s economy as our exports are also affected .However, he further added that silver lining is low international commodities and oil prices which in turn has helped in better macroeconomic situation of the country.The Finance Minister said that the agriculture growth in the last two years has suffered mainly due to insufficient monsoons. Shri Jaitely said that highest ever amount was given to the States for drought relief during the current financial year 2015-16 and more incentives will be given to agriculture sector for increasing agriculture production and productivity. The Finance Minister was making the Opening Remarks at the First Meeting of the Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Finance during inter-session of Parliament held here today. The Subject of the Meeting was “Suggestions for Budget”. 

The Finance Minister Shri Jaitley further said that loan worth over Rs. 90 crores has been already disbursed in the current financial year so far to more than 2 crore micro, small and medium enterprises under MUDRA Scheme. The Finance Minister said that we will be able to contain the fiscal deficit as per the target fixed for the current financial year 2015-16. The Finance Minister said that this was also the first time that the real expenditure amount was higher than the Budget proposal. He further added that this year we have spent more but still, we will very well manage our deficit targets. He said that during the financial year 2016-17, the Central Government has to make provision for about Rs.1.10 lakh crore in order to meet the liabilities on account of implementation of Seventh Pay Commission recommendations and One Rank One Pension (OROP) Scheme. 

Thereafter, various suggestions were given by the Members of Consultative Committee who participated in today’s Meeting. Some of the major suggestions include more allocation for agriculture sector, setting-up of Indian Council for Veterinary Research (ICVR) at par with ICAR and ICMR in order to give boost to milk production etc. They appreciated the Union Government’s new crop insurance scheme but proposed to bring more clarity in the scheme, need to increase the awareness about the scheme and to make it more comprehensive so that it reaches to larger section of population. 

Another suggestion made was that the forthcoming budget may give relief to industries to set-up sewage and affluent treatment plants in order to keep the environment clean. Other suggestions include more allocation for Drip Irrigation System to save water and promotion for use of improved varieties of seeds for crops to increase productivity. 

It was also suggested by various members that tax exemption limit for middle and salaried class be raised from existing Rs. 2.5 lakhs to Rs. 4 lakhs as well as more stress be given on widening of tax base and severe punishment for those evading taxes. It was also suggested that threshold limit for mandatory Pan Card requirement for any transaction above Rs. 2.00 lakh be raised to Rs. 5.00 lakhs. It was suggested that service tax exemption limit be raised from Rs. 10 lakhs to Rs. 25 lakhs sale receipts and skill development related education institutions be exempted from service tax. Some members suggested that there should be accountability of assessing officers for passing unreasonably high tax liability orders to harass the assesses which are later on turned down by the Appellate authorities. 

Another suggestion made was that since Indian economy is agro economy, therefore, agriculture oriented budget be presented this year. Higher allocations should be made to improve the agriculture related irrigation projects in different States which are in bad shape. It was suggested that skill development programmes be implemented effectively at block level in order to penetrate at grass root level and to make the Start-up India and Make in India programmes successful both in reality and spirit. It was also suggested that special package for fluoride affected areas and redesigning of MGNREGA be done in order to make it more effective. There was also suggestion to change the labour ratio in MNERGA such that it can be more productive and used for infrastructure building along with providing jobs. 

Some members raised that more focus be given for providing employment opportunities in rural areas, increasing agriculture productivity and increase in agriculture credit at cheaper rate; more provision for education, skill development and residential houses for fishing community. It was also suggested that forthcoming budget be poor and common man oriented and should make higher provision for removing child malnutrition among others. There was also suggestion that the funds from CSR must be directed to be used in developing the area where the company is functioning and making profits. There was also suggestion to give tax incentive to MSMEs for their betterment which, in turn, would help in creating more employment opportunities. 

Along with the Union Finance Minister, Shri Arun Jaitley, Shri Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Finance, the Members of the Consultative Committee who participated in the Meeting include Shri Dilip Kumar Mansukhlal Gandhi, Shri J. Jayasingh Thyagraj Natterjee, Shri P.P. Chaudhary, Smt. Poonam Mahajan, Shri Ram Charitra Nishad, Shri Sharad Kumar Maruti Bansode, Shri Subhash Chandra, Smt. Supriya Sadanand Sule, Dr. Udit Raj (all members of Lok Sabha); Shri Anil Desai, Dr. K.P. Ramalingam and Shri Rajkumar Doot (all members of Rajya Sabha) . 

Among the officers who attended the Consultative Committee Meeting include Shri Ratan P. Watal, Finance Secretary, Shri Shaktikanta Das, Secretary, DEA, Dr. Hasmukh Adhia, Revenue Secretary, Ms. Anjuly Chib Dugal, Secretary, Financial Services, Shri Neeraj Kumar Gupta, Secretary, Disinvestment, Dr. Arvind Subramanian, Chief Economic Adviser (CEA), Chairman, CBEC Shri Najib Shah and other senior officers of the Ministry of Finance. 

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