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Middle class can hope for big tax relief in budget 2018-19

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New Delhi: Middle class can hope for a big relief in Budget 2018-19, which will also be the last regular budget of the NDA government, as the finance ministry is contemplating to hike personal tax exemption limit and tweak the tax slabs, according to sources.
The proposals before the ministry is to hike the tax exemption limit from the existing Rs 2.5 lakh per annum to at least Rs 3 lakh if not 5 lakh, they said.
Besides, the tinkering of tax slab is also being actively considered by the ministry to give substantial relief to middle-income group, especially the salaried class, to help them tide over the impact of retail inflation, which has started inching up.
In the last Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley left the slabs unchanged but gave marginal relief to small tax payer by reducing the rate from 10 per cent to 5 per cent for individuals having annual income between Rs 2.5-5 lakh.
In the next Budget to be unveiled on February 1, the government could lower tax rate by 10 per cent on income between 5-10 lakh, levy 20 per cent rate for income between Rs 10-20 lakh and 30 per cent for income beyond Rs 20 lakh.
At present, there is no tax slab for income between 10-20 lakh.
“Considering the steep rise in cost of living due to inflation, it is suggested that basic limit for exemption and other income slabs should be enhanced to give benefit to low income group. The income trigger for peak rate in other countries is significantly higher,” industry chamber CII said in its pre-Budget memorandum to the finance ministry.
Although the industry chambers want the government to reduce peak tax slab to 25 per cent, it is unlikely that the ministry will agree to that due to pressure on fiscal deficit.
The subdued indirect tax collection following roll out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) from July 1 last year has put pressure on the fiscal deficit, which has been pegged at 3.2 per cent of the GDP for 2017-18.
The government recently raised borrowing target by additional Rs 50,000 crore for the current fiscal to meet the shortfall.
According to industry body FICCI, there is a likelihood that demonetisation effects may linger on for some more months and hence there is a need to further boost demand and therefore, the government should consider revision of income tax slabs, by raising the income level on which peak tax rate would trigger.
“This would improve purchasing power and create additional demand. For individual taxpayers, 30 per cent tax rate should be applicable only if the income is above Rs 20 lakh. Additionally, interest rates should be lowered to enable affordable finance for conducting business operation and expansion,” it said.
Among other things, chambers have suggested re- introduction of the standard deduction for salaried employees to at least Rs 1 lakh to ease the tax burden of them and keeping in mind the rate of inflation and purchasing power of the salaried individual, which is dependent on salary available for disbursement.
Standard deduction, which was available to the salaried individuals on their taxable income, was abolished with effect from assessment year 2006-07.


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India one of world’s fastest growing large economies:IMF

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Washington: India has been one of the fastest growing large economies in the world, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said, asserting that the country has carried out several key reforms in the last five years, but more needs to be done.
Responding to a question on India’s economic development in the last five years at a fortnightly news conference here, IMF communications director Gerry Rice Thursday said, “India has of course been one of the world’s fastest growing large economies of late, with growth averaging about seven per cent over the past five years.”
“Important reforms have been implemented and we feel more reforms are needed to sustain this high growth, including to harness the demographic dividend opportunity, which India has,” he said.
Details about the Indian economy would be revealed in the upcoming World Economic Outlook (WEO) survey report to be released by the IMF ahead of the annual spring meeting with the World Bank next month, he said.
This report would be the first under Indian American economist Gita Gopinath, who is now IMF’s chief economist.
“The WEO will go into more details. But amongst the policy priorities, we would include accelerate the cleanup of banks and corporate balance sheets, continue fiscal consolidation, both at centre and state levels, and broadly maintain the reform momentum in terms of structural reforms in factor markets, labour, land reforms and further enhancing the business climate to achieve faster and more inclusive growth,” Rice said.

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Fitch cuts India GDP growth forecast for FY20 to 6.8 pc

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New Delhi: Fitch Ratings on Friday cut India’s economic growth forecast for the next financial year starting April 1, to 6.8 per cent from its previous estimate of 7 per cent, on weaker than expected momentum in the economy.
“While we have cut our growth forecasts for the next fiscal year (FY20, ending in March 2020) on weaker-than-expected momentum, we still see Indian GDP growth to hold up reasonably well, at 6.8 per cent, followed by 7.1 per cent in FY21,” Fitch said in its Global Economic Outlook. Fitch Ratings cut India’s FY19 GDP growth forecast to 7.2 per cent from 7.8 per cent on December 6.
The rating agency has also cut growth forecasts for FY20 and FY21 to 7 per cent from 7.3 per cent and 7.1 per cent from 7.3 per cent, respectively. According to Fitch, the RBI has adopted a more dovish monetary policy stance and cut interest rates by 0.25 percentage at its February 2019 meeting, a move supported by steadily decelerating headline inflation.
“We have changed our rate outlook and we now expect another 25 bp cut in 2019, amid protracted below target inflation and easier global monetary conditions than previously envisaged,” it said. “On the fiscal side, the budget for FY20 plans to increase cash transfers for farmers,” it added. Fitch said, it’s benign oil price outlook and expectations of accelerating food prices in the coming months should support rural households’ income and consumption.

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India’s total wireless subscribers grew to 1.18 bn in January 2019: TRAI

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New Delhi: India’s total wireless subscribers grew by 0.51 percent to 1,181.97 million (1.18 bn) in January 2019, as per a report by telecom regularor TRAI.
Total wireless subscribers (GSM, CDMA & LTE) increased from 1,176.00 million at the end of December 2018 to 1,181.97 million at the end of January 2019, thereby registering a monthly growth rate of 0.51 percent, the TRAI report said.
As on January 31, 2019, the private access service providers held 89.95 percent market share of the wireless subscribers whereas BSNL and MTNL, the two PSU access service providers, had a market share of only 10.05%, the regulator said in its report.
The Wireless subscription in urban areas increased from 647.52 million at the end of December 2018 to 654.20 million at the end of January 2019, however wireless subscriptions in rural areas declined from 528.48 million to 527.77 million during the month.
The monthly growth rates of urban wireless subscription was1.03 percent and rural wireless subscription was 0.13%, the report said
The Wireless Tele-density in India increased from 89.78 at the end of December 2018 to 90.15 at the end of January 2019.
The Urban Wireless Tele-density increased from 155.48 at the end of December 2018 to 156.85 at the end of January 2019, however Rural Wireless Tele-density declined from 59.15 to 59.04 during the same period.
The share of urban and rural wireless subscribers in total number of wireless subscribers was 55.35 percent and 44.65 percent respectively at the end of January 2019.

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