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India Inc For No Change In Tax Rates

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Reeling under the impact of global slowdown and a high interest rate regime, India Inc on Friday demanded that tax rates be retained at existing levels even as Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed concerns about challenges facing the economy.

In their customary pre-Budget meeting with Mukherjee, industry leaders also demanded that healthcare services be kept outside service tax ambit, and privatise coal mines.

"There are various challenges before us, including keeping inflation and fiscal and revenue deficit to manageable levels... which we all have to address collectively," Mukherjee said in his address to the industry leaders.

At the meeting, business leaders suggested that service tax base may be widened with a negative list, besides exempting infrastructure companies and SEZ units from MAT.

"We have made a case for retaining tax rates at the present level. There should be no increase in corporate tax, service tax and excise," Ficci President R V Kanoria said in the Budget expectation.

Mukherjee is likely to unveil the Budget proposals for 2012-13 mid-March in Lok Sabha.

He also made a case for privatisation of coal mines, stimulating demand through fiscal measures and revisiting the concept of dividend distribution tax (DDT).

CII National Committee on Healthcare Chairman Naresh Trehan sought infrastructure status for the healthcare sector as that would encourage companies in setting up hospitals in smallers cities and towns.

Besides finance and commerce ministry officials, the meeting was attended by ITC Ltd Chairman Y C Deveshwar, HUL MD and CEO Nitin Paranjpe, Suzlon Energy Founder Tulsi Tanti and representatives of industry chambers.

(PTI)