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Rediff News  All News  » Business » FinMin in dock over tax code delay

FinMin in dock over tax code delay

April 25, 2008 12:37 IST
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance has passed strictures against the finance ministry for the delay in introducing the draft direct tax code for legislation to replace the voluminous Income Tax Act, 1961.

"The committee regrets to find that even one year after its recommendation, the amendment Bill is yet to be introduced in Parliament," the committee said, seeking a response on the matter.

The Department of Revenue had earlier said that the discussion paper, along with the draft of the Bill, was under preparation and would be released to public for debate.

The Bill would be introduced in Parliament after the feedback and  suitable amendments, it added. "The committee feels that fairly long time has already been taken by the (revenue) department on this matter. It should be ensured that there is no avoidable delay in introducing the Bill in Parliament," it added.

The committee had in 2006-07 recommended that the Bill amending the direct tax laws should be introduced for effective administration of the same laws. Sources say any decision on introducing the Bill, which proposes to remove virtually all tax exemptions to firms and corporations, now wrests with top decision-makers in the government.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said on many occasions that the code would be introduced in Parliament by December 2007. He later said it would be put up for public comments in January 2008. However, there is no move or indication in that direction so far.

Officials in the North Block express doubt if the Bill will be made public in the election year (general elections are seen in early 2009) keeping in view the possibility of bad publicity and stiff opposition to any removal of exemptions.

The Congress does not have a clear majority in Parliament to ensure the passage of the Bill on its own in case of opposition from allies. Sources say this could be one of the factors delaying the new tax code.

The draft direct tax code was submitted to Chidambaram in September 2006. Though the law ministry took a long time in vetting the code, everyone was expecting it to be made public in 2007.

Prashant K Sahu in New Delhi