Business Today

At Daggers Drawn

     Print Edition: March 3, 2013

The UPA's 10 budgets have been presented by two fi nance ministers, P. Chidambaram and Pranab Mukherjee. Despite being from the same political party and working under one prime minister, Chidambaram and Mukherjee have tried to undo each other's work, adding to the economy's problems.

February 2005
P. Chidambaram introduces the Fringe Benefits Tax in 2005. "The tax is not a new tax, although I am obliged to call it by a new name."

February 2008
P. Chidambaram understates deficits. "I acknowledge that signifi cant liabilities of the government on account of oil, food and fertiliser bonds are currently below the line."

June 2009
Pranab Mukherjee abolishes Fringe Benefits Tax. "This tax has been perceived as imposing considerable compliance burden ... I propose to abolish the Fringe Benefits Tax."

ILLUSTRATION BY SANTOSH
February 2010
Pranab Mukherjee faces up to deficits, prefers cash. "I would like to continue... extending government subsidy in cash." February 2010

February 2011
Pranab Mukherjee introduces Direct Tax Code in Parliament in August 2010 to overhaul direct tax structure. "We shall be able to finalise the code ... in 2011/12."

February 2011
Pranab Mukherjee introduces a constitutional amendment bill to transition to GST in 2011. "Decisions on GST have to be taken in concert with states."

March 2012
Pranab Mukherjee introduces GAAR in Budget 2012/13, which is to become effective a year later. "I propose to introduce a General Anti-Avoidance Rule to counter aggressive tax avoidance."

May 2012
Pranab Mukherjee introduces a retrospective amendment in Budget 2012/13 to tax Vodafone. "There cannot be a situation where somebody will make money on an asset located in India and will not pay tax either to India or to the country of its origin."

August 2012
ILLUSTRATION BY SANTOSH
Chidambaram wants to change the Direct Tax Code Bill introduced by Pranab Mukherjee in Parliament in 2010. "DTC requires a fresh look."

November 2012
Chidambaram initiates work towards a new framework for Goods and Services Tax although Mukherjee has already devised one and introduces it in Parliament through a constitutional amendment. "When GST should come into force is really a matter for states to decide."

January 2013
P Chidambaram postpones controversial General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) by two years. "These decisions by and large addressed all concerns."

January 2013
P Chidambaram seeks a solution for retrospective tax amendment affecting Vodafone through negotiations. "There's an ongoing dialogue with hopes for a quick resolution."

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