Jaitley said, the Modi government hopes to bring a final solution this year and approve the legislative scheme which enables introduction of GST across the country
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday said a solution to the issues relating to expeditiously rolling out goods and services tax (GST) may be finalised in the current year itself.
While presenting his maiden Budget for 2014-15, the finance minister said, "I do hope we are able to bring a final solution in the course of this year and approve the legislative scheme which enables introduction of GST. This would streamline tax administration and avoid harassment of business and result in higher tax collection both for centre and states."
The GST regime aims at subsuming most of the indirect taxes at the central as well as states' level. The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2011 introduced a Constitutional Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha to pave the way for introduction of GST.
The debate on whether to introduce GST must come to an end now, Jaitley said, adding, "we have discussed the issue for past many years. Some states have been apprehensive about surrendering tax jurisdiction others want to be adequately compensated".
He assured all states that government would be more than fair in dealing with states.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley increased the foreign direct investment limit in insurance and defence to 49% from the current 26% through the FIPB route
Presenting the first Budget of the Narendra Modi government, finance minister Arun Jaitley increased the foreign direct investment limit in insurance and defence to 49% from the current 26%.
"The insurance sector is investment starved. Several segments of insurance sector need expansion. The composite cap of the insurance sector is proposed to be increased to 49% from the current level of 26% with full management and control through the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) route," he said while presenting the Budget for 2014-15.
The move would help insurance companies to get much needed capital from overseas partners.
The proposal to raise FDI cap has been pending since 2008 when the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government came up with Insurance Laws (Amendment) Bill to hike foreign holding in insurance joint ventures to 49 % from the existing 26 %.
He said the government will take up the Bill soon.
On defence sector, Jaitley said the composite cap of foreign exchange is being raised to 49% with full Indian management and control through the FIPB route. Currently, the government permits 26% FDI in defence manufacturing.
"India today is a largest buyer of defence equipment in the world. Our domestic manufacturing capabilities are still at a nascent stage,” he said.
"We are buying a substantial part of our defence requirements directly from foreign players, companies controlled by foreign governments and foreign private parties are supplying our defence requirements to us at a considerable outflow of foreign exchange," he added.
Further, to encourage development of smart cities which will also provide habitation for the new middle class, the Finance Minister announced that the requirement of the built up area and capital conditions for FDI is being reduced from 50,000 sq m to 20,000 sq m and from $10 million to $5 million respectively with a three years post completion lock in.
Lok Sabha Speaker said the break was given since Arun Jaitley felt “slightly unwell” and was later allowed to resume the budget presentation, which he delivered from his seat
In an unusual situation, the presentation of the Union Budget for 2014-15 was halted in the Lok Sabha for five minutes after finance minister Arun Jaitley requested a break. This is probably for the first time that the Budget speech was broken.
Acceding to the minister’s request, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan gave a five-minute break as he seemed to be feeling exhausted after a 40-minute fast-paced speech.
When the House reassembled, the Speaker said the break was given since he felt “slightly unwell.” She then allowed him to resume the budget presentation, while being seated.
According to Lok Sabha sources, the 61-year-old Minister also felt back pain and was seen leaning on the lectern at one point in his speech.
Earlier, during his speech he was seen frequently drinking water.