Union Budget 2015-2016 key Highlights

1. TAXATION

* To abolish wealth tax

* Replaces wealth tax with additional 2 pct surcharge on super rich

* Proposes to cut to 25 percent corporate tax over next four years

* Corporate tax of 30 percent is uncompetitive

* Net gain from tax proposals seen at 150.68 billion rupees

* Jaitley proposes modification of permanent establishment norms so that the mere presence of a fund manager in India would not constitute a permanent establishment of the offshore fund, resulting in adverse tax consequences.

* Proposes to rationalise capital gains tax regime for real estate investment trusts

* Expects to implement goods and services tax by April 2016

* To reduce custom duty on 22 items

* Basic custom duty on commercial vehicle doubled to 20 percent

* Proposes to increase service tax rate and education cess to 14 percent from 12.36 percent

* Plans to introduce direct tax regime that is internationally competitive on rates without exemptions

* Exemptions for individual tax payers to continue

* To enact tough penalties for tax evasion in new bill

* Tax dept to clarify indirect transfer of assets and dividend paid by foreign firms

2. FISCAL DEFICIT

* Fiscal deficit seen at 3.9 percent of GDP in 2015/16

* Will meet the challenging fiscal target of 4.1 percent of GDP

* Remain committed to meeting medium term fiscal deficit target of 3 percent of GDP

* Current account deficit below 1.3 percent of GDP

* Jaitley says have to keep fiscal discipline in mind despite need for higher investment

3. GROWTH

* GDP growth seen at between 8 percent and 8.5 percent y/y

* Aiming double digit growth rate, achievable soon

4. INFLATION

* Expects consumer inflation to remain close to 5 percent by March, opening room for more monetary policy easing

* Monetary policy framework agreement with the RBI clearly states objective of keeping inflation below 6 percent

* “One of the achievements of my government has been to conquer inflation. This decline in my view represents a structural shift.”

5. REVENUES

* Revenue deficit seen at 2.8 percent of GDP

* Non tax revenue seen at 2.21 trillion rupees

* Agricultural incomes are under stress

6. DISINVESTMENT

* Government targets 410 billion rupees from stake sales in companies

* Total stake sale in 2015/16 seen at 695 billion rupees

7. MARKET REFORMS

* Propose to merge commodities regulator with SEBI

* To bring a new bankruptcy code

* Jaitley says will move to amend the RBI act this year, and provide for a monetary policy committee

* To set up public debt management agency

* Proposes to introduce a public contract resolution of disputes bill

* To establish an autonomous bank board bureau to improve management of public sector banks

8. POLICY REFORMS

* To enact a comprehensive new law on black money

* Propose to create a universal social security system for all Indians

* To launch a national skills mission soon to enhance employability of rural youth

* To raise visa-on-arrival facility to 150 countries from 43

* Allocates 346.99 billion rupees for rural employment guarantee scheme

9. BORROWING

* Gross market borrowing seen at 6 trillion rupees

* Net market borrowing seen at 4.56 trillion rupees

10. GENERAL ANTI-AVOIDANCE RULES (GAAR)

* Government defers rollout of anti-tax avoidance rules GAAR by two years

* GAAR to apply prospectively from April 1, 2017

* Retrospective tax provisions will be avoided

11. INFRASTRUCTURE

* Investment in infrastructure will go up by 700 bln rupees in 2015/16 over last year

* Plans to set up national investment infrastructure fund

* Proposes tax-free infrastructure bonds for projects in roads, rail and irrigation projects

* Proposes 5 “ultra mega” power projects for 4,000 MW each

* Second unit of Kudankulam nuclear power station to be commissioned

* Will need to build additional 100,000 km of road

* Ports in public sector will be encouraged to corporatise under Companies Act

12. EXPENDITURE

* Plan expenditure estimated at about 4.65 trillion rupees

* Non-plan expenditure seen at about 13.12 trillion rupees

* Allocates 2.46 trillion rupees for defence spending

* Allocates 331.5 billion rupees for health sector

* If revenue improves, hope to raise budgeted allocations for rural job scheme by 50 billion rupees

13. INVESTMENT

* Propose to do away with different types of foreign investment caps and replace them with composite caps

* To allow foreign investment in alternative investment funds

* Public investment needed to catalyse investment

14. GOLD

* To develop a sovereign gold bond

* To introduce gold monetisation scheme to allow depositors to earn interest

* To introduce Indian-made gold coin to reduce demand for foreign gold coins

15. SUBSIDIES

* Food subsidy seen at 1.24 trillion rupees

* Fertiliser subsidy seen at 729.69 billion rupees

* Fuel subsidy seen at 300 billion rupees

* We are committed to subsidy rationalisation based on cutting leakages

FINANCE MINISTER’S COMMENTS

* “We inherited a sentiment of doom and gloom. The investment community had almost written us off. We have come a long way since then.”

* “We have turned around the economy, dramatically restoring macroeconomic stability and creating the conditions for sustainable poverty elimination, job creation, durable double digit economic growth.”

* “While being mindful of the challenges … this gives us reason to feel optimistic.”

* “Domestic and international investors are seeing us with renewed interest and hope.”

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