Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday (February 15) said that petroleum products can be included in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) framework once an agreement in this regard is reached among states. Sitharaman also said that the effort of the government over the years has been to increase public expenditure with a view to promote growth.
“The provision is already available for petroleum products to be brought into the GST. My predecessor had already made the window keep open,” she said while speaking at the Post-Budget interactive session with the members of the industry chamber PHDCCI. Five petroleum products — petroleum crude, motor spirit (petrol), high speed diesel, natural gas and aviation turbine fuel — have temporarily been kept out and the GST Council shall decide the date from which they shall be included in GST.
Emphasis on public capital expenditure
“Once the states agree, we will have the petroleum products also be covered under the GST. So, that’s not so much of us not wanting it,” she said. The 49th meeting of the GST Council is scheduled to be held in New Delhi on February 18, 2023. “It is the entire (GST) council saying yes, and saying yes, not just yes, because its already in there. What they have to do is to determine a rate and once they tell me the rate, we get it into the GST,” the finance minister said.
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The minister said that the government in the 2023-24 budget increased the capital expenditure by 33 per cent to Rs 10 lakh crore. “Consistently for the last three-four years, the emphasis has been given on public capital expenditure. We have kept that up in this budget…capital expenditure, clearly can be said as a real focus of this budget,” she said. “This is the first time in many years that the capital expenditure has reached a double-digit amount, making it the clear focus of this budget,” Sitharaman added.
The minister pointed out that the budget has given a roadmap for fiscal consolidation. “I must credit the entire ministry for giving a budget which is fiscally responsible, but very clear on the target, that is, growth has to be given the momentum,” she noted.
Sitharaman in her fifth straight budget had announced a lower fiscal deficit target of 5.9 per cent for FY24 while retaining it at 6.4 per cent for the current financial year. She had also reiterated her intention to bring the fiscal deficit below 4.5 per cent of GDP by 2025-26.
‘2023-24 budget is fiscally responsible’
She further said that the states were being nudged to carry forward reforms in various sectors including power and also implement the one nation, one ration card scheme. Sitharaman said that she was advised by the prime minister that momentum on growth should not be relaxed or diluted.
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According to the minister, the 2023-24 budget is fiscally responsible, while ensuring public expenditure at a higher level to have a desired multiplier effect on all the sectors. She also noted that the central government is collaborating with the states, as well as the tier III administrations, such as the Panchayats or ward-level administrations, to ensure that MSME priorities remain at the top of the agenda.
Replying to a question, Sitharaman rued that women are reluctant to join company boards. “If you can hold me guilty. I am not able to find those who are ready to be on boards (of company) particularly women,” she said. The statutes mandate top 1,000 companies to have at least one independent woman director.
(With Agency inputs)