Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has promised to sympathetically consider the demand of some cooperative banks for removal of the 33 per cent income tax on their profits, a measure that was imposed in the current year's budget.
He gave this assurance to a delegation of representatives of nine cooperative banks from Karnataka which met him in New Delhi on Wednesday night. The delegation was led by CPI(M) MP Basudeb Acharia.
The delegation brought to his notice that the tax exemption enjoyed by the cooperative banks was withdrawn in the current year's budget which they said hit hard at the foundations of the cooperative sector that catered mainly to the needs of the poor, middle and the salaried class and other marginalised sections.
The representatives of the small banks told Singh that it was wrong to equate the cooperative sector with the huge commercial banks that made profits in crores of rupees every year, thus providing no level playing field.
They said the rationale given by Finance Minister P Chidambaram that the tax on profits would bring about discipline in their audited and filing of tax returns would improve the standards of accountability and governance did not hold any water because these banks already functioned under the strict RBI norms and the government audit through Registrar of Cooperative Societies.