Swachh Reforms in Electoral Funding
to the EC—one party, one account. The bank would know who has bought the bonds but there will be anonymity on part of further distributions, so that one is not scared. If we want to disclose even that, then they better pay through cheque. So industry people who complain and ask for anonymity, we are ready to give it. Now they can buy bonds from banks and give the bonds to political parties who will show it in their accounts. The party knows who funded them, and they can eventually disclose how many electoral bonds they received. Whichever party will take more than 2,000 in cash, it will not get tax exemption.
Small taxpayers have been rewarded post demonetisation. What about the aam aadmi? This is the first budget where there has been a cut in the tax of every taxpayer. Out of the 3.7 crore assessees who file returns, there isn’t a single person whose tax has increased. Also, there isn’t a single person who hasn’t seen a reduction in his tax. We have halved the tax for those under 5 lakh salary. Those above have also gotten the 12,500 annual profit. I wanted to give out a couple of messages through this—one, that there should be more money in the hands of the tax payer and the middle class. Second, I wanted to make it attractive at entry point, so more people should enter. You come, pay the return on half-a-page and there will be no scrutiny and pay the tax. I used this sentence in my budget speech today--that the honest taxpayer is paying the share of the tax evader. After demonetisation, these 18 lakh people that we have identified yesterday, who have made deposits in lakhs and crores, and don’t pay taxes or pay less taxes, now if I drag them into the tax net, then at least those honest payers paying their share must get some relief. So, I have rewarded honesty, at the same time put more money in their hands and I am trying to bring the nonfilers into the filing category.
Do you have a road map on how Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) will be abolished? More than 90% of FDI today is on the automatic route so FIPB is not required. FIPB is required only in 10% cases. In most of these 10% cases you actually require some clearance from the parent department and then you require FIPB. So, the investor has to jump through hurdles which are identical in nature. So the idea was to abolish this and get it done by the relevant ministries.
Are you giving up your own powers? That is what liberalisation is all about…
CEA Arvind Subramanian had an entire chapter devoted to universal basic income in the Economic Survey. What are your thoughts? Subramanian’s idea is wonderful. The difficulty is that in politics that has not matured you will have a kind of demand for continuing the existing subsidies and also give universal basic income, which is something which is not possible. The universal basic income is an alternative to the current structure of subsidies and therefore if India’s politics can mature, I think Arvind’s idea on the table… Economic Survey puts at times ideas for future debate. This time he has put universal basic income and I think both these ideas merit serious discussion amongst the opinion maker.
You seem to suggest it is an idea whose time has not come? It is an idea whose time should come…