Finance Minister Piyush Goyal expressed confidence that the Narendra Modi government would return to power in the upcoming general elections, and that it might look at tax relaxations for individuals earning more than Rs 5 lakh annually in the full Budget for 2019-20. Edited excerpts from Goyal’s post-Budget press conference:
You said that in the main Budget, you would further look at the income tax rate slabs.
I hope that the next government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi will look at other tax proposals in the main Budget. That would be the job of the finance minister then. I have been constrained by the nature of interim Budget. However, there are many things that could not have waited till the final Budget, particularly relief for small taxpayers, which I have passed on. The rest is for the next FM to decide in July. Anyway, if you see the track record of this government, for five years consistently, we have passed on many benefits to taxpayers.
If a person’s taxable income is Rs 8 lakh, would tax benefits be according to the present slabs?
Yes. Keeping the convention of interim Budget in mind, we have not touched the tax slabs, and the existing slabs will continue. For only those with taxable income below Rs 5 lakh, we have announced a measure in the interim Budget.
Do we have a new fiscal road map in place?
A lot of economic growth has not been captured in the GDP numbers that came out earlier. As the nation is moving towards formalisation, the tax base and revenues are also increasing. Probably that has taken some time to reflect in the (GDP) numbers. As the calculation is getting robust and given the new numbers just came out, fiscal consolidation may not change much. When we calculate with the new estimates, we have done better than the original road map.
What do you have to say on the revised fiscal deficit numbers?
You would appreciate that this government, for four years consistently, has given Budgets in which we have met (the fiscal target). Our figures for actuals are close to the revised estimates. And it’s actually 3.36 per cent (for 2018-19) – it could have become 3.30 per cent. Whatever figures come by working from the bottom, we have maintained the sanctity of the Budget process, which is reflected in the actual figures.
That has been the strength of this government’s fiscal consolidation – the integrity in making Budgets.
Have you completely provided for fertiliser and petroleum subsidy in the revised estimates?
We have provided for all that is required. In fact, what we inherited as unpaid subsidy was the worst form of fiscal indiscipline in 2014. Almost Rs 1.60 trillion unpaid bill was left behind by the UPA government, which this government paid.
Will the income support scheme go along with subsidy to farmers?
This is an income support scheme which has no co-relation with subsidy. Land holdings have kept on getting divided. Over 70 million farmers have land holding of less than half hectare. So you can imagine the impact this income support of Rs 6,000 will have on the farmers living in villages.