Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will start pre-Budget consultations with various stakeholders on Thursday. The Budget for 2014-15 is likely to be presented in the first week of July.
Representatives from the agriculture sector would be the first to interact with the finance minister, an official statement said on Wednesday. This comes in the wake of various quarters expressing fears on emergence of the El Nino weather phenomenon this year. For this year, the India Meteorological Department has forecast a sub-normal monsoon.
For 2013-14, the agriculture sector was one of the few ones that aided growth in gross domestic product; the sector grew 4.7 per cent, against 1.4 per cent in 2012-13. Growth in the sector stood at a whopping 6.3 per cent in the quarter ended March this year, compared with 3.4 per cent in the December quarter.
Thursday evening, the finance minister will meet representatives from the social sector. There is speculation various social sector schemes such as the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme may be tweaked by the new government.
On Friday, the finance minister would meet members of trade unions, industry chambers and trade associations, officials said. Various industry chambers have been asking the new government to revive the investment cycle. In its pre-Budget memorandum, the Confederation of Indian Industry urged the government to reduce the general rate of excise duty from the current 12 per cent to 10 per cent across the board to revive demand. It also recommended the cut in the excise duty on certain goods be extended up to March 31, 2015. Interim Budget 2014-15, presented on February 17, had announced a two-six per cent cut in this regard up to June 30 this year.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry has said the government should clarify it will not apply retrospective amendments to the Income Tax Act.
A survey by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry showed taxpayers wanted the Budget to provide for income tax exemption thresholds, after factoring in inflation for the past five years, as well as a saving rebate of more than Rs 1 lakh.
At their meeting with Jaitley, it is expected trade associations will raise the issue of a fragile recovery in exports. After declining for consecutive months, exports rose 5.36 per cent in April.
On June 10, the minister is scheduled to meet officials from the banking and financial services sectors, as well as economists. Ministry officials have already indicated the government might not provide additional recapitalisation to public sector banks than the Rs 11,200 crore pegged in the interim-Budget.
The issue of financial inclusion and rising non-performance assets (NPAs) might also come up at the meeting.
At 4.44 per cent, NPAs of public sector banks in the quarter ended March were less than 5.07 per cent in the previous quarter. However, these are at elevated levels.
June 5 (Thursday)
Evening: Social sector
June 6 (Friday)
Morning: Trade unions
Evening: Industry chambers and trade associations
June 10 (Tuesday)
Morning: Banking and financial services heads