J P GUPTA
New Delhi: The immediate effect of outbreak of Coronavirus is reverberating in the corridors of the government. In a recent move the Finance Ministry has turned down at least three proposals of the Food Ministry in view of the poor revenue collection since outbreak of the disease.
India’s income tax revenues contracted 3.5 per cent in the first 11 months of the fiscal year 2019-2020. Income from other taxes also grew only by 3.8 per cent during the period, official data said.
In its first proposal, the Food Ministry had proposed lowering import taxes on crude and refined vegetable oils, by 3-7 per cent to keep a tab on domestic prices that shot up more than 11 per cent after India restricted palm oil imports from Malaysia in January this year.
India stopped purchasing Malaysian palm oil after the then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad criticized India’s policy regarding its Muslim minority.
Another proposal of the Food Ministry to raise the supply of subsidised rice and wheat to 7 kg a month from the current 5 kg for most beneficiaries was also shelved by Finance Ministry as it cost additional three billion rupees to the exchequer.
In the next financial year, India plans to spend Rs 1500 crore to run its massive food welfare programme, which gives rice and wheat to 67 per cent of India’s 1.3 billion people at about 10 per cent of the market price.
Highly placed sources in the government said, the Finance Ministry has also red-flagged a Food Ministry plan to give vitamin-fortified rice to millions of poverty-stricken people. The rice fortification plan involved an expenditure of 5 trillion rupees.
The finance ministry has asked other departments also to avoid any new proposals and also curb non-essential expenditures.