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Reforms are good but can lead to tech terrorism: FM Nirmala Sitharaman

Says Budget shows govt trusts wealth creators, marking directional change

Nirmala Sitharaman | Union Budget | Indian Economy

Vinay Umarji  |  Ahmedabad 

nirmala sitharaman
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

Union Finance Minister on Thursday lauded the reform of faceless assessment for direct and indirect taxes, saying that tax terrorism will be a thing of the past, but warned that “technology terrorism” will now gain ground.

“We have changed the tax system, be it direct taxes or indirect taxes. Earlier, we used to hear complaints that we cannot put up with this tax terrorism. Such were the words used. Now technology has been brought in a big way and we hope that no official will call you up and say come and meet me and bring something (bribe) with you,” she said.

“Success in identifying the loopholes is better with technology as compared to the past when officers used to interact one-on-one. Technology can identify where loopholes exist, where people are misusing the system and using it for their advantage.”

“So technology terrorism will happen next,” the finance minister said.

While speaking on the fuel price hike issue, she admitted that both the Centre and the states needed to work together to reduce the burden on consumers.

“I believe it is no longer competitive (Centre-states). If it benefits the consumer, and I agree the burden should be less on them, it is no longer a competition between the Centre and the states,” she added.

She also said this year's Budget has negated the notion that welfare state is a socialist prerogative, adding that it has given a directional change to the Indian economy, wherein the government trusts wealth creators and citizens.

“This is a Budget for a new decade. This Budget clearly says we trust the private sector and they are welcome to participate in the development of the country. It’s a Budget in which we are recognising what a government can do or how far it can do... So it's a Budget that gives directional change to the Indian economy,” Sitharaman said.

“We went for socialism, which could not fit into the Indian ethos. We have lived through this...We have lived through some of the dirty times of the license-quota raj,” the minister added.”

The directional change that “we are talking about is we have gone through those things (socialism and license-quota raj for industries). Now, we are not suspecting you (citizens and wealth creators) that you are always up to something. We trust you and invite you to participate in the development of the country”, she said.

Pointing out that corporate taxes are the lowest in India, she said this is one of the reasons why foreign companies want to set up their base in the country.

On disinvestment, she said, “It is time to take a call till when we will put taxpayers' money in running public sectors, when private sectors can do it. We do not want them to close, but we will invite private sectors to run a better enterprise.”

She said that the (International Monetary Fund) IMF has predicted 11.5 per cent growth for this year.

“The sentiments on the ground match these predictions as the industrialists I meet are saying that they have sustained demands and their manufacturing units are running at full capacity now,” she said.

Sustained increase in GST collections also speaks about the revival of the economy, she said.

With inputs from PTI

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First Published: Fri, February 26 2021. 01:30 IST