New Delhi, April 28, 2017

Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Friday said some ‘tough steps are necessary’ to make India an increasingly tax compliant society, according to reports.

“(In) the entire effort to simplify both direct and indirect tax structure, some tough steps are required to see that India increasingly becomes a tax-compliant society,” he said while addressing the annual meeting of CII in New Delhi.

FM Jaitley promised not to spring any surprises in fixing tax rates under the new GST regime, saying they will not be “significantly different” from current levels. He, however, said companies should pass on to consumers the benefit of reduction in taxes under GST which will eliminate the current compounding effect of different central and state levies, the report says.

FM Jaitley also said that India is in the advanced stages of formulating a policy to encourage domestic defence manufacturing and cut import of combat planes, ships and submarines. Jaitley, who holds additional charge of the Defence Ministry, said the focus would be on technological tie-ups to help India become a “manufacturing economy”, as per PTI story.

“India is the world’s largest arms importer, spending some 1.8 per cent of its GDP on defence. It imports about 70 per cent of defence equipment, a proposition which the government wants to change. “We are in the advanced stages of formulating a policy where we can ensure that instead of just being buyers… on the strength of technological and other tie-ups, India also becomes a manufacturing economy,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.

Jaitley said that abolition of the 25-year-old Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) is in the final lap and this will set the stage for more reforms in the FDI policy. Jaitley had in his Budget for 2017-18 proposed abolition of FIPB — an inter-ministerial body under the Finance Ministry’s Department of Economic Affairs that processes FDI proposals and makes recommendations for government approval. “I am now in the final stages of doing away with the FIPB because 90 per cent of the investment in India comes under the automatic route. So for the balance 10 per cent, do we need multiple forums to give approval or (do) we need just one forum in one ministry?” he said.

[The Financial Express]