Government lifts spending curbs on tax mop-up

NEW DELHI: The finance ministry on Friday lifted spending curbs on several ministries as latest tax numbers showed healthy collections, which is seen as a sign of a sharp pickup in economic activity following the brutal second wave.
“I can see very clearly signs of revival and good signs of revival. Otherwise my revenue collection would not be where it is, both the GST and direct taxation,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at an event in Chandigarh.
Latest data released by the income tax deparment showed that direct tax collections had shot up 47% to a little under Rs 6.5 lakh crore between April and September 22, as against around Rs 3.3 lakh crore during the corresponding period last year. When compared with the same period in 2019-20, collections were almost 17% higher, latest data released by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) showed.
On a year-on-year basis, the numbers suggested a healthier 74% jump in net collections, with the mop-up, after refunds, added up to Rs 5.7 lakh crore. This was 27% higher than the level seen in financial year 2019-20.
The healthy growth was also visible in the advance tax numbers. The second installment, which was to be paid this month, showed a 51% rise over last year and added up to over Rs 1.7 lakh crore. The government said this was despte the “challenging initial months” of the current financial year, when large parts of the country faced a lockdown due to the second wave of Covid-19 infections. The two installments taken together (June and September) saw the advance tax kitty swell 56% to over Rs 2.5 lakh crore.
So far, the income tax department has issued refunds of Rs 75,111 crore.
The current pace of growth in gross direct tax collections is higher than the 22% increase budgeted for 2021-22. With GST collections too returning to the Rs 1 lakh level, the government believes that it is on course to meeting its revenue targets, which will also help the Centre meet the fiscal deficit target of 6.8% of GDP, despite higher than budgeted spending.
The improved collections have resulted in the finance ministry lifting the spending curbs on several ministries that were imposed at the end of June.

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