New Delhi, Dec 20 (IANS) Leading economists who met Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a pre-Budget 2020-21 consultation meeting here on Friday suggested several steps, including streamlining the Direct Tax Code as among key measures to spur growth, they said.
They also urged reforms in the small savings rate, the GST rate structures among other moves to revive micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and to push growth towards achieving the target of a $5-trillion economy
According to an official statement, the main focus areas of discussion included steps needed to achieve a $5 trillion economy, job-oriented growth with focus on manufacturing and services, transparency of fiscal arithmetic, monetary transmission, government’s fiscal prudence as well as its fiscal stimulus, revival of non banking finance companies (NBFCs) and inflation among others.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, economist Arvind Virmani, a former Chief Economic Advisor (CEA), said that GDP growth needs to be accelerated back to 7-7.5 per cent.
“We have bottomed out as far as growth reduction is concerned. The main issue before the Budget is what can be done for accelerating the growth where 7 per cent rate should be targeted”, he said.
The former CEA further said that the main concern now is growth, while some little flexibility in fiscal deficit could be undertaken for first having growth in hand.
“The two key reforms that need to be addressed are the Direct Tax Code (DTC) which is very important for MSMEs as 80-90 per cent people are self employed. DTC will affect them and the structure of the code is most important,” he said.
“For the MSMEs also, GST is very critical here the issue is of the structure for 90 per cent of countries who have a VAT have a single rate. I don’t suggest a single rate but the simple VAT type of tax is necessary for 90 per cent of those who are involved in it,” he added.
A Finance Ministry statement said that among the key suggestions made were to attract more investment , streamlining policy matters and faster resolution of policy issues, fiscal management, power sector reforms, focus on long-term structural reforms and simplification of the GST and Direct Tax Code.
Others suggestions included securing supply chains, on the fiscal deficit, continuity in economic policy making, land and labour reforms, enhancing rural demand, improving oversight of financial markets, reforms in small savings rates, boosting agricultural exports and simplifying procedures to boost financial savings.
The meeting with the Finance Minister was attended by the various Secretaries of the Ministry, the CEA K.V. Subramanian, the Chairman CBDT and other senior Finance Ministry officials.
Economists participating included Neelkanth Mishra of Credit Suisse, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy Director Rathin Roy, Financial Express Managing Editor Sunil Jain, the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER) Director General Shekhar Shah, O(X)US Investment MD Surjit S. Bhalla, HDFC Bank Chief Economist Abheek Barua and State Bank of India Chief Economist Soumya Kanti Ghosh.