The government is working to solve the tax stress inherited from the discoms: FM


Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Sunday that the government was working to quickly resolve the inherited tax burden on power distribution utilities as part of efforts to meet the climate change targets that India has settled down.

Speaking during a virtual post-budget interaction hosted by industry body Assocham, Sitharaman also said she would take forward the industry’s proposal to include aviation jet fuel (ATF) in the GST during of the next meeting of the GST Council.

“On the GST, as you pointed out, it’s not with me alone, it has to go to the GST Board. The next time we meet in council, I’ll put it on the table for them to discuss,” the minister said.

Responding to industry suggestions to send new signals against the dumping of ferrous and non-ferrous metals in India, the minister said that the competing demands from different sections of the industry – the large-scale metal producers in competition with low-cost imports and the need for small businesses to have access to affordable raw materials – posed a policy dilemma.

“While we don’t want dumping, we also want the price to be at affordable levels for MSMEs,” the minister said.

Sitharaman said the government was tackling the rooted problems in the electricity sector, layer by layer.

The problems faced by the sector are problems inherited from the past. “We will eliminate this so that futuristic financing and a better partnership can be developed. It won’t be long. We would like to sort this out very quickly as we understand the criticality of the sector,” Sitharaman said. She added that it was important for this sector to be dynamic in order to meet the climate-related commitments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India has set a goal of net zero emissions by 2070.

She said there was a need to strengthen coordination between the Center and the States as well as electricity distribution and generation companies. The financial difficulties of electricity distribution utilities have been a major headache for policymakers and the rest of the value chain.

Sitharaman said technical textiles was an area where India could do a lot more to capture the global market. The minister assured that she would talk to the banks to ensure access to credit for sectors that need liquidity.

A day earlier, Sitharaman had told business representatives during a post-budget interaction hosted by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) that the government’s idea to increase capital investment was to support economic recovery while building modern infrastructure, benefiting from its multiplier effect and influx of private investment. Sitharaman also urged the private sector to support the virtuous cycle of growth and invest. The minister also said on Saturday that rural distress was being addressed in a number of ways.

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