Many challenges await Jaitley as he presents budget today

jaitleyAmidst challenging external environment, Finance minister Arun Jaitley will be presenting his budget today although there are no clear indications of changing income tax slabs.

He faces a tough task of balancing the needs of farm sector as well as the industry as he seeks to garner resources to boost public spending for higher growth amid global headwinds.

On the income tax front, the Budget may continue with the status quo on the tax slabs while it may tinker with the exemptions.

Rising rural distress because of back-to-back droughts have put considerable pressure on the Finance Minister to spend more on social schemes, while at the same time he has to win back foreign investors craving for faster reforms.

His difficulties have been compounded by the huge payout of Rs 1.02 lakh crore that will become necessary on account of the 7th Pay Commission recommendations for government employees. How much he does this without compromising on the previously-announced goal of lowering the fiscal deficit to 3.5 per cent of the GDP next year is to be seen.

Jaitley is also likely to fulfil his last year’s promise of gradual reduction of corporate tax from 30 per cent to 25 per cent over four years. It is expected that he may begin the exercise in the Budget tomorrow that may be accompanied by withdrawal of tax exemptions to keep the exercise revenue neutral, PTI reported.

To shore up revenues to meet the increased expenditure, the finance minister may need to increase indirect tax rates or introduce new taxes. Service Tax, raised to 14.5 per cent last year, may see a hike to prepare for the level of 18 per cent being envisaged in the GST.

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