Raise I-T exemption limit to Rs2 lakh: Sinha to FM

Presently, income up to Rs1.6 lakh per annum is exempt from tax for individuals. For women and senior citizens, the limit is Rs1.9 lakh and Rs2.4 lakh, respectively

New Delhi: Standing Committee on Finance chairman Yashwant Sinha today suggested raising the income tax (I-T) exemption limit from Rs1.6 lakh to Rs2 lakh in the budget apparently to provide relief to common man reeling under the impact of high inflation, reports PTI.

"...He (the finance minister) should introduce some of the provisions which are part of the Direct Tax Code (DTC), like raising exemption limit," Mr Sinha told PTI in an interview.

When asked whether it should be raised to Rs2 lakh, as proposed in the Direct Taxes Code (DTC) Bill, the former finance minister remarked: "Whatever is in DTC."

Inflation continues to be a concern for the common man as well as the government. While food inflation had touched 18.32% in December 2010, before moderating to over 11% this month, the overall inflation still stood above 8% as against the comfort level of 5%-6%.

Presently, income up to Rs1.6 lakh per annum is exempt from tax for individuals. For women and senior citizens, the limit is Rs1.9 lakh and Rs2.4 lakh, respectively.

However, under the DTC Bill, which was introduced in Parliament last year, the I-T exemption limit is proposed at Rs2 lakh.

Under the bill, the government seeks to widen tax slabs to levy 10% rate on income between Rs2 lakh and Rs5 lakh, 20% on Rs5-Rs10 lakh and 30% above Rs10 lakh.

The DTC, which would replace the Income Tax Act, is slated to come into effect from April next year.

"The DTC is with the committee but that should not prevent the FM from introducing in this Finance Bill some of the more acceptable non controversial provision of DTC," Mr Sinha added.

He said the saving exemption limit, which is currently pegged at Rs1 lakh, should also be raised.

"There is a case for going for a larger limit of exemption of savings, which is today limited to Rs1 lakh," the former minister said.

Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee is slated to present the Union budget on 28th February.


Pawar makes strong case to bring down onions MEP

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar stated that the prevailing international export price of onions is around $250-$300 while India's minimum export price (MEP) stands at $600 per tonne

New Delhi: Making a strong case for bringing down the $600 per tonne export benchmark price for Indian onions which has made them uncompetitive, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today said the minimum export price (MEP) is double the prevailing rate in the international markets, reports PTI.

"I have enquired from the states from where onions are exported to different countries and got information that the prevailing international export price is around $250-$300, but our MEP, at $600 per tonne, is almost double," Mr Pawar told reporters here.

"This (higher MEP) will create obstacles in exporting onions from India," Mr Pawar said on the sidelines of an agriculture function.

"I think it is a fit case for giving a second thought to bring down MEP to make Indian onions internationally competitive," he said.

Mr Pawar expressed confidence that the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) meeting this week will give serious thought to the issue (of lowering MEP).

The government had last week decided to lift ban on exports of onions following farmers' protest over crash in domestic prices within two months of touching Rs80 a kg.

The decision to this effect on 17th February 17 last was taken at the meeting of the Empowered Group of Ministers (EGoM) on food, headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee.

But, as a precautionary measure against possibility of prices shooting again, the EGoM decided to allow shipments of onions at a MEP of $600 (about Rs28,000) per tonne.

Agriculture minister Sharad Pawar, food minister KV Thomas and commerce minister Anand Sharma could not attend the crucial meeting due to other engagements.

Earlier, Mr Pawar and Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan had approached commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma to open onions export in view of farmers' agitation in the main producing state Maharashtra due to crashing of prices as a result of oversupply.

The government had banned onion exports in the last week of December 2010, to augment domestic supply and contain onion prices, which had touched Rs70-Rs80 per kg.

Prior to the ban, India exported 11.58 lakh tonnes of onions mainly to Gulf countries, Sri Lanka and Malaysia during April-November of this fiscal.

Referring to debate on price rise in Parliament yesterday, Mr Pawar said price rise of some vegetables like onions in the past one month was "temporary".

He made it clear that regulating perishable produce that comes directly from farmers, in line with other commodities like wheat and rice, was not possible.

He reiterated that the Centre does not have much role in perishable items like fruits & vegetables which are primarily the responsibility of state governments.


Standard Chartered Private Equity invests Rs46 crore in Innoventive Industries

The investment includes a primary infusion of Rs30.4 crore into Innoventive Industries as part of the pre-IPO investment

Standard Chartered Private Equity (SCPE) has invested Rs46 crore in Innoventive Industries Ltd, multi-product engineering company based in Pune. The investment includes a primary infusion of Rs30.4 crore into the company as part of the pre-IPO investment. This funding will part finance the expansion of the company's existing precision steel tube manufacturing facilities at Pune. With this investment, SCPE's equity stake in Innoventive Industries will be 10.14%.

Innoventive is a multi-product engineering company focused on precision steel tubes and value added steel products (including boiler steel strips) and oil well couplings (through its subsidiary). The company's product range find application in diverse industrial sectors including transportation, oil & gas, power, farm equipments and general engineering.

Rahul Raisurana, managing director, Standard Chartered Private Equity, said, "We are delighted to invest in Innoventive Industries. The precision tubes, tubular products and related spaces present significant growth prospects. We have found Innoventive Industries to be the right partner because of its focus on product and process, a key differentiator for the company."


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