In his customary pre-budget meeting with industrialists on Tuesday, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee hinted that indirect taxes won't be increased, considering the soaring food inflation and the high prices of commodities.
At the same time, Mukherjee may not cut direct tax rates, because of revenue implications constraints. But he indicated that the stimulus measures for industry would continue as the economy is still not out of the woods, business leaders told the media after the meeting.
This is in line with experts' predictions that big-ticket changes in taxation are unlikely on 28 February, when the budget for 2011-12 will be presented to Parliament. (See: No big taxation changes expected in budget).
The promise of continuing with the stimulus measures that were put in place after the global financial meltdown in 2008 was soothing for industry, which has been seeking lower corporate taxes and abolition of various surcharges and cess, besides retaining the peak customs duty at 10 per cent.
Those who met the finance minister at his North Block office included Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, FICCI president Rajan Bharti Mittal, V N Dhoot of Videocon Industries, Assocham president Dilip Modi, FIEO president Ramu Deora and Som Mittal of Nasscom.
Mittal told the media, "We have sought maintenance of excise duty at the current level."