The finance ministry has initiated consultations with industry captains on Budget 2008-09. Revenue secretary PV Bhide has scheduled a series of meetings over the next few days with various industry chambers to discuss a range of issues including fiscal sops for the beleaguered export sector in the wake of a persistently rising rupee.
The industry has also called for a reduction in the excise duty rate from the current level of 16 per cent to 14 per cent arguing that a lower tax incidence would result in lower prices.
The cement industry, which received flak for raising prices immediately after the presentation of the previous budget, has also demanded imposition of countervailing duty on imports.
Cement manufacturers have increased the prices of cement by Rs 12 per 50 kg following the proposal in the budget to introduce a differential excise tax regime. The government subsequently chose to permit easy imports reducing customs duty to zero per cent and withdrawing countervailing duty on imported cement.
The proposed goods and services tax (GST), might have a two-tier structure, relating to states and the Centre, is also likely to come up.
GST has been flagged as the next big tax rationalisation measure in indirect tax after the introduction of state-wide VAT and is likely to come into effect from 2010. The GST roadmap is linked to the time-bound implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act and the phase-out of the Central Sales Tax before 2010.
Officials said efforts would be made to adopt the international GST rate of 16 per cent, or close to it.