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Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey (file photo)
Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey (file photo)

Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey explains agri cess, says agriculture should become more productive

By Shailesh Yadav | Updated: Feb 04, 2021 16:02 IST

New Delhi [India], February 4 (ANI): Surprising many, in the recent Union Budget government came up with an Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess (AIDC) instead of COVID-19 cess. Finance Secretary Ajay Bhushan Pandey in an exclusive interview to ANI explains the reason behind it.
"This critical infrastructure and development cess is proposed in this budget to promote infrastructure in the agriculture sector. The need of the hour is that our agriculture should become more productive. Our system should be such that the efficiency of agriculture should increase," Pandey told ANI.
"Our farmers should get the remunerative prices for their produce, a lot of investments is required to materialise this. And therefore, the government has created this dedicated fund to make investments in the infrastructure and the technology in the field of agriculture," he added.
Commenting on the reports of COVID-19 cess, Pandey said those were mere assumptions of some people and they were far from the fact and the total allocation in the health sector has been increased by almost 140 per cent.
"This budget is meant to be 'Atmanirbhar Bharat ka Budget.' So, we don't want to put an extra burden on people in these pandemic-induced tough times where most of us suffered a lot. The government is not thinking to generate more revenue by increasing the tax burden on our people," Pandey said.
He further added: "Our economy is struggling under the impact of the pandemic. We wanted to give relief to the people. We couldn't have helped them by increasing tax. If we want to increase our revenue, we can do it by improving our compliance and simplifying the tax system. We did that by reducing corporate tax along with rationalising and simplifying personal tax last year."
He also cited the reason for record Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection in January month.
Pandey said, the reason for the improvement in the GST collection is two-fold. The first is a recovery in the economy and second is the compliance "with the use of technology through the data which we collect, from the various sources such as customs, income tax and banks."
He further explained that evading tax have become more difficult. Government is doing data analytics with sophisticated techniques to catch the evaders.
"We are in a position to identify those who are trying to exploit the system. They disclose one figure to the income tax, another figure to customs and yet another figure to the GST. Now life has become very difficult for these tax evaders because we are collecting all this data," Pandey said.
"We are doing data analytics using sophisticated techniques, artificial intelligence, and we are able to pinpoint those people who are indulging in fake billings and tax evasion. We have taken targeted action and we will continue to take such targeted action in the times to come. We hope that with the recovery in the economy and an improvement in compliance, this trend of collections will continue," he added. (ANI)