FM hopeful of eliminating revenue deficit by 2008-09

Chidambaram is confident of eliminating the government's revenue deficit by 2008-09 as mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, reports Gaurav Choudhury.
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Updated on Jul 17, 2007 10:44 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | ByGaurav Choudhury, New Delhi

The government is confident of eliminating its revenue deficit by 2008-09 as mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act, with tax collections showing robust buoyancy in the first quarter of the current fiscal year, Finance Minister P Chidambaram said on Tuesday.

He said deficit targets as projected in the budget for 2007-08 would be met.

"We have been right so far (in meeting the revenue deficit target). There is no reason why we should be wrong next year," Chidambaram said after a meeting with chief commissioners of income tax.

Total direct taxes collections in the April-June first quarter this year stood at Rs 41,154 crore.

"We are on target. I am confident that the targets would be achieved. Budget estimates are non-negotiable. Anything more than that is welcome," the finance minister said.

Corporate tax collections are projected to grow by 17.44 per cent and personal income tax collections by 14.5 per cent in 2007-08 over the actual collections of the previous year.

Total direct tax collections are estimated to be Rs 2,67,490 crore, which is 16.31 per cent higher than the actual collections of 2006-07.

The Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council said on Monday that the Centre's revenue deficit continues to be high and is unlikely to be eliminated by 2008-09. Revenue deficit was two per cent in 2006-07 and is estimated to be 1.5 per cent in the current fiscal year.

"There is subtle difference between 'difficult to meet' and 'would not be met'," Chidambaram said while commenting on the EAC report.

"Whatever I have proposed in the Budget, I will achieve," he said.

Chidambaram also said that the government would soon issue guidelines on determining the fair market value of employees' stock options given by companies for calculating fringe benefit tax. "Guidelines would be issued shortly," he said.

He said a government process to issue Permanent Account Number (PAN) cards enabled for biometric identification will start shortly.

Biometric recognition involves using computer technology to recognise fingerprints and other identification features.

"The process of eliminating about 13 lakh duplicate PAN cards is in the last mile. Once that process is completed shortly, then we will set a date, after which all new PAN cards will only be biometric," he said.

Chidambaram said current PAN card holders would be persuaded to switch over to biometric PAN cards. It has also been decided to carry out integrated 360-degree profiling of individual tax payers, covering all aspects of their profile.

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