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Modi Assures Middle Class Of An End To 'Tax Terrorism'

Prime Minister backs a new inflation target of 4 per cent, vows to keep food inflation under check and ensure that poor people do not suffer

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday assured taxpayers that he will remove the fear of taxman hounding them by ushering in accountability and answerability.

"Middle class, upper middle class used to be hassled with I-T officers, more than police. I have to change this situation, I am working on it and will make the change happen," Modi said in his Independence Day address.

The Prime Minister said that he wishes to focus not only on the work being done by the Government, but also on its work-culture.

Addressing the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort, Modi said that in the past honest citizens felt harassed while claiming refunds, but now the entire system has become electronic and refunds reach bank accounts within week's time.

"There was a time when ordinary, honest citizens used to give his or her income tax and used to carefully give two rupees extra so that there is no problem going ahead. But after the money came to the exchequer, then he or she used to have a hard time to get refund, they had to use contacts and it used to take months for the citizens to get their refund from the exchequer," he said.

"Today we have moved towards online refund. In a week, 2 weeks or 3 weeks refunds have started going. This is a result of measures like accountability and answerability," he added.

Seeking to eliminate corruption and promote ease of doing business, the Income Tax Department has been taking various taxpayer friendly measures, including e-verification of returns, paperless email-based inquiry and e-scrutiny.

During the current fiscal, till August 1, refunds of up to Rs 5,000 have already been issued to over 11.91 lakh assesses involving a total amount of Rs 244 crore.

In order to bring in transparency, the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) has recently published comprehensive data based on income tax returns filed for assessment year 2012-13.

India Inc

Leading business figures have hailed the country's economic climate and the initiatives taken by the government to boost growth.

"As we celebrate 70 glorious years as an independent nation, I wish all Indians a highly prosperous Independence Day. Against the backdrop of major economic reforms such as GST, we are truly on the cusp of mega socioeconomic national development, riding on the resounding success of strategic initiatives like 'Make in India', 'Digital India' and 'Jan Dhan Yojana' which were announced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister two years ago," said Rana Kapoor, MD and CEO of Yes Bank and chairman of Yes Institute.

"India has unequivocally emerged as a safe haven, with unmatched macroeconomic stability, amidst rising global uncertainties. In a year that marks 25 years of our country’s economic liberalization, it is mission critical to adhere to the mantra of 'Transform India' to enable integrated development, improve good governance, uphold global standards and meet aspirations of all Indians. I am confident that all Indian citizens will continue to rally together for this common national objective to accelerate momentum and actualize the vision of a new, empowered India," he added.

Adani Enterprises chief Gautam Adani said people should commit to a self-reliant India.

Biocon Limited chairman Kiran Mazumdar Shaw celebrated Independence Day with Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology (IBAB) students in Bangalore and resolved "to build pride through innovation."

In keeping with earlier speeches, Modi delivered a report card on efforts to improve the lot of ordinary Indians, reeling off achievements in rural electrification, financial inclusion and health provision.

Modi backed a new inflation target of 4 per cent as he vowed to keep food inflation under check and ensure that the food plate of the poor does not become expensive.

He said his government has not allowed the rate of price rise to cross 6 per cent as opposed to the double digit inflation during previous government.

"In the past government, inflation rate had crossed 10 per cent. We have not allowed inflation rate to cross 6 per cent because of the continued steps taken by us," he said.

Modi backed the 4 per cent inflation target, within a range of 2 percentage points either way, set for the next five years under the monetary policy framework agreement with the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

On spike in prices of pulses, he said sowing of pulses has risen by 1.5 times this year and with good monsoon and efforts like Minimum Support Price and bonus to farmers as well as increasing availability will make things better.

He mentioned his government's latest - and arguably most significant - reform achievement: the passage of a key amendment that clears the way for the introduction of a goods and services tax (GST) next year.

He said only that the GST would "give strength" to the economy, while thanking opposition parties that, after a drawn-out battle, had come on board to pass the amendment unanimously through both houses of parliament.

The GST would unite India's $2 trillion economy and 1.3 billion people into a single market for the first time and, its backers say, boost economic growth and job creation that Modi needs to win a second term at the 2019 general election.

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