Morarji Desai – 1967 Budget

Finance Minister : Morarji Desai
Budget Year :1967

BACK

Morarji Desai

1  SPEECH OF SHRI MORARJI R. DESAI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND  MINISTER OF FINANCE INTRODUCING THE BUDGET FOR THE YEAR  1967-68(Final)

Sir,  On the 20th of March this year, I presented to this Honourable House an interim  Budget for the year 1967-68. In presenting that Budget, I had occasion to remark that  a number of difficult and even conflicting considerations had to be taken into account  in framing the Budget for the current year. There was not enough time in the last  session of Parliament either for Honourable Members or for the Government to review  the situation fully. It was against this general background that it was proposed to  present a fuller picture of Government’s budgetary as well as general economic policies  in the current session of Parliament; and it is for this purpose that I stand before the  Honourable House today.

2. The areas of immediate concern in the economic field are easy to define:  First, there is the serious situation created by the drought concerning food supplies  in general and the well-being of the people in the scarcity affected areas in particular.  Second, the steady rise in prices which has been with us now for more than  three years has to be arrested in the shortest possible time.  Third, there is need to revive industrial activity, particularly in a number of  capital goods industries which are suffering from lack of demand.  Fourth, recent adverse trends in exports have to be reversed as soon as possible.  And finally, these immediate problems must be tackled in a manner which gives  us confidence that we can look forward to a long period of satisfactory growth with  reasonable price stability and increasing self-reliance and without sacrificing the claims  of national security and social justice.

FOOD SITUATION

3. The average production of foodgrains during the last two seasons has  been 17 per cent below the level reached in 1964-65. This sharp decline in output has  meant loss of income for farmers in many parts of the country. Our first concern in  this situation has naturally been to prevent undue hardship to the vulnerable sections  of the community by provision of work and incomes and by substantial distribution of  foodgrains through public channels. It is, I think, a matter of gratification for the  country and for our friends abroad who have rendered us a valuable help at this  difficult juncture that despite the sharp reduction in output, a major calamity has been  averted. I can assure the Honourable House and the people affected in all scarcity  2  areas, and particularly in large parts of Bihar and eastern Uttar Pradesh, that we shall  spare no effort or money to ensure that relief measures and public distribution of  foodgrains will be continued and extended to the extent necessary during the lean  months still ahead of us. I propose to make a substantial additional provision of Rs.38  crores in the Centre’s Budget for the current year for supporting relief measures and  assisting the scarcity affected States. This is in addition to the provision of Rs.37  crores already made in the interim Budget. Honourable Members would agree that  relief to the people in the scarcity areas should be the first charge on any resources  that we, at the Centre, can spare even in our present difficult conditions.

4. We have already imported 3.5 million tonnes of foodgrains during the  first five months of 1967. Another 2.6 million tonnes are expected to arrive after the  end of May. Of this total of some 6 million tonnes, a little over one million tonnes  represent purchases, of roughly equal quantities of rice and wheat, from our own  resources; the balance consists of PL 480 supplies from the United States and assistance  from a number of other countries notably Canada, the Soviet Union and Australia.  Subject to appropriate matching, the United States has indicated its willingness to  provide another 3 million tonnes of foodgrains; and of this 1.5 million tonnes are  expected to be authorised shortly. A considerable part of the purchases we have  authorised from our own resources is in the expectation that appropriate assistance  will be available from other countries in a form which will relieve our general balance  of payments position. Apart from these purchases, we also have to spend large amounts  of our own foreign exchange earnings for meeting freight payments on foodgrains  supplied on concessional terms. Nevertheless, to the extent necessary, arrangements  for further imports from our own resources will be made to prevent a breakdown of  the public distribution system.

5. The availability of rice around the world is extremely limited; and even  such quantities as are available can be had at prices much higher than those for other  cereals. Our public distribution system will, therefore, have to rely primarily on wheat  and milo. While supplies of wheat can be supplemented appreciably by imports, the  supply of rice has to depend essentially on internal procurement. I am happy to say  that all State Governments, whether surplus or deficit, are co-operating in the task of  procuring internal supplies of rice, wheat and other foodgrains. To facilitate this effort,  we have increased procurement prices and have maintained and indeed strengthened  zonal restrictions between States. Whatever may be the merits of the system of free  distribution and free movement of grains in normal times, it is obvious that in the  present circumstances, the public distribution system and the zonal restrictions will  have to continue.

6. Honourable Members are aware that the present system of distribution of  foodgrains imposes a heavy burden on the financial position of the Centre on account  of the subsidised rates at which we supply imported foodgrains to State Governments  and others. This subsidy is expected to cost as much as Rs.118 crores to the Central  3  Government in the current year. Despite the difficult budgetary situation, we have for  the present thought it prudent to continue the Central subsidies or foodgrains. It is our  policy, however, to reduce and eliminate this subsidy as soon as circumstances permit.  The large expenditure on food subsidies is me of the main reasons why it has been  difficult for us this year to provide for important developmental needs. Any sustained  erosion of developmental outlays through a policy of subsiding consumption, however  essential cannot but have serious repercussions on our ability to provide the same  essential consumer goods in the years to come.

7. In addition to the subsidy given by the Centre, some State Governments  also are subsiding foodgrains. In our Federal Constitution, it is not for the Centre to  decide what the States should do in matters like this. But it is my duty to make it clear  that if any State Government wishes to subsidise foodgrains, over and above the  substantial subsidy given by the Central Government, it will have to do so on the basis  of its own resources and without counting on any additional Central assistance for the  purpose.

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION

8. Honourable Members are aware of the steps we are taking to increase  agricultural productivity on a sustained basis in connection with what has come to be  known as the new agricultural strategy. But there is urgent need also to take immediate  steps to ensure that the next kharif crop turns out to be as good as possible. It simply  will not do to rest content with the hope that after two severe droughts, weather  conditions are bound to take a turn for the better in the coming season. Whatever the  weather conditions, immediate steps have to be taken to make sure that programmes  like minor irrigation and provision of better seeds and more fertilizers, which can  make the maximum impact on the crop prospects for the coming year, are proceeded  with on an emergency basis. This is why, even in the interim Budget, we had sought  to provide the full needs of agriculture for the current year. On a review of these  needs, some additional provision for Land Mortgage Banks has been found necessary;  and I propose to provide Rs.5 crores more for this purpose. I propose also to increase  Plan assistance to the State Governments from Rs.535 crores provided in the interim  Budget to Rs.590 crores. It is essentially for the State Governments to decide how best  to deploy their resources. But I hope that they will earmark a large part of the total  resources available to them for securing an immediate increase in agricultural  production. We are currently providing nearly 300 million dollars for import of fertilizers  as against less than 100 million dollars only three years ago. Correspondingly, fertilizer  credits are also being substantially enlarged.

9. The drought has affected severely not only the food situation but also the  supply position in regard to a number of other essential products such as raw jute,  cotton, oilseeds and sugar. Arrangements nave had to be made for substantial imports  of both raw jute and raw cotton and we shall make provision for additional imports in  order to sustain both exports and internal consumption. In the case of raw jute imports,   the subsidy to maintain the competitive position of the Indian jute industry has been  continued in the current year. We shall review the position regarding both imports and  subsidy in the light of the prospects for the coming crop. In the meanwhile, in order  to encourage domestic production, the minimum support price for raw jute has been  raised from Rs.35 per maund to Rs.40 per maund.

10. In respect of raw jute and cotton as well as oilseeds, it is of the utmost  Importance to step up research and other activity for increasing per acre yields. The  future of many of our important export industries will turn heavily on the efficiency  with which we produce the raw materials for them. It is gratifying that industry is  becoming increasingly conscious of this need; and at a later stage, I will have occasion  to refer to a change in our tax laws that I propose to introduce for encouraging research  activity in general by our industry.  11. The decline in sugar production this year has been particularly sharp.  There is no escape from a reduction in the internal consumption of sugar; and the  present controls on price and distribution will have to be maintained in order to distribute  the shortage equitably. We shall keep the situation under review and take whatever  steps are necessary to increase the output of sugarcane in the next season and to keep  its diversion to other uses within reasonable limits.

PRICE STABILITY

12. In the wake of the recent drought, there has been a sharp increase in  prices. To some extent, upward pressure on prices was exerted also by devaluation. A  situation in which prices have risen by as much as 46 per cent over a period of three  years naturally creates apprehensions about further inflation; and this, in turn, depresses  savings and encourages unproductive investments in land, urban property, gold and  commodities. Curbs on such investment become, therefore, more important than ever.  Again, in a period of inflation, prices increase at an uneven pace for different products  and services; and this raises many difficult problems of adjustment of relative prices.  13. In addition to these standard concomitants of inflation, we have to reckon  with special complications when the primary impetus for the rise in prices comes  from a sudden and sharp decline in output rather than from an excessive increase in  demand. It is not always possible to reduce demand swiftly in the face of a sudden  decline in output; and it becomes necessary to spread the process of adjusting supply  and demand over a period of time and, with the help of larger imports. But foreign  exchange earnings from exports also get adversely affected as a result both of the fall  in production and the rise in prices; and this makes it difficult to augment domestic  availability by larger imports. Again, the necessity to put an end to the inflationary  psychology and the adverse effect of the decline in production on governmental revenues  requires a restraint on public and private expenditure; and this in turn tends to depress  demand conditions for specific industries. Similarly, when crops fail and there is  extensive loss of real incomes, there is a tendency for consumer demand to be depressed  and for raw material costs to increase so, that some industries get caught in a real   squeeze. What I have just said describes in essence, the kind of difficult and complex  situation which we are facing today. There are no perfect answers to deal with a  situation of this character; and I can only indicate to Honourable Members the lines  along which we propose to move in the coming months to reconcile, as best as possible,  the different elements in the present situation in the light of our general policy  objectives.

14. We consider it of the utmost importance that our primary concern at the  present moment should be to put an end to the psychology of inflation. Continued  and large budgetary deficits over the past few years have contributed to this  psychology. I propose, therefore, in the present budget also to limit the outlays of  the Central Government strictly within the resources which can be mobilised in a  non-inflationary manner.

15. Equally, we must avoid a repetition of the situation, in which the State  Governments can shift their budgetary burdens to the Centre by resorting to  unauthorised overdrafts from the Reserve Bank. In order that the task of avoiding  overdrafts may not prove impossibly difficult for the State Governments, I propose to  help them in advance to a greater extent than was possible in the interim Budget.  Taking account of both Plan and non-Plan requirements, the assistance now being  proposed for the States is Rs.98 crores more than in the interim Budget. I am well  aware that this does not meet all the needs of the State Governments; but I hope that  they also will do their part for meeting their needs. This is not the time when either the  Centre or the States can afford to give up or erode important sources of revenue. If  some concessions are to be given, say to very small farmers, they will have to be made  up–and indeed, more than made up–by higher levies on better-off farmers. It is  sometimes suggested that if the Centre cannot help in any other way, it should help by  postponing recovery of interest and amortisation charges from State Governments.  While we are prepared to discuss all problems with Chief Ministers and others, I hope  it is clear that if we are to help the States more in one way, we will be able to help  them less in other ways.

16. I am well aware that avoidance of deficit financing is neither a necessary  nor a sufficient condition for price stability in all circumstances. Over a period, some  expansion in supply is necessary to accommodate the needs of growing production.  Nevertheless, in the present circumstances, it is desirable that Government should not  appropriate any part of the permissible limit of monetary expansion. This will allow  a larger expansion of bank credit to agriculture and industry to facilitate higher  production. The new agricultural strategy and the immediate programmes for increasing  agricultural production that ‘ are so vitally important require a substantial increase in  credit. It is equally important to ensure that private industry is not inhibited from  increasing production by undue limitations on the availability of credit. Some restraint  on private credit, particularly for speculative and unproductive purposes, will, of course,  be necessary. But apart from its psychological importance, the avoidance of deficit  6  financing by the Government would place the Reserve Bank and the banking system  in general in a better position to meet the genuine credit requirements of agriculture  and industry, whether public or private.

17. The question of adjustment in relative prices raises difficult social and  economic questions. When costs have risen, some adjustment of prices becomes  unavoidable if production is not to be affected. Similarly, when real incomes are  eroded by increases in the cost of living, some compensation to the lower income  groups becomes not only unavoidable but also necessary in the interest of maintaining  social harmony and good industrial and service relations. At the same time, the process  of prices chasing costs and costs chasing prices cannot be allowed to go unchecked.  For this reason, Government has endeavoured to stagger adjustments in relative prices  without ruling out such adjustments altogether; and the same discriminating policy  will have to be adopted for some time to come with a somewhat greater accent against  upward revisions either in wages or in prices.  18. Considerable concern has been caused rightly in the country by the recent  deterioration in industrial relations. At a time when some hardship is unavoidable and  when it is of the utmost importance to increase efficiency and production, such  deterioration is particularly regrettable. I would, therefore, appeal most earnestly to  employees and employers to solve their mutual problems in a spirit of give and take.  Any further deterioration in industrial relations can only spell greater hardship for the  vulnerable sections of the community.

REVIVAL OF INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

19. The growth of industrial output has slowed down considerably over the  past two years. There has been a modest revival since October last. Nevertheless,  industrial production in general has by no means been buoyant and several industries  are actually experiencing a decline in production and an increase in excess capacity.

20. The situation that prevails at present cannot be described as one of general  recession. In such a situation, one would expect to find excess capacity all round and,  therefore, the possibility of increasing output by general stimulation of demand. There  is obviously no immediate possibility of increasing agricultural output merely by  stimulating demand. Even in regard to industry, the emergence of sizeable excess capacity  is concentrated in capital goods industries, notably, railway wagons, machine tools,  textile machinery, castings and structurals. Among consumer goods industries, difficulties  are felt particularly by the weaker cotton textile mills which have been in need of  rationalisation and more efficient management for quite some time. Policies which are  designed to stimulate demand in general are clearly out of place in the present situation  when availabilities of basic consumer goods and agricultural raw materials cannot be  increased significantly in the short-run. At the same time, there cannot be any question  that whatever can be done has to be done to revive industrial production.

21. Basically, Government’s approach to the revival of industrial production  consists of a number ingredients.  7  For the priority industries, we are continuing the liberal import policy; for other  industries producing essential consumer goods also, the import requirements of raw  materials and components will be met on a more liberal basis.  Despite the difficult budgetary position, it is proposed to provide additional  sums beyond what was already provided in the interim Budget for the developmental  and other needs of both the Centre and the States.  To the extent possible, additional outlays are being directed to the capital goods  industries which are in need of some impetus to demand.  It is my intention also to explore all avenues of stimulating investment and  developmental outlays as soon as the basic supply conditions in regard to essential  consumer goods show some improvement. Planning for a revival of investment activity  whether in the public or the private sector should, therefore, receive no set-back.  As already mentioned, avoidance of deficit financing will make it possible to  ensure that production is not held back for want of credit.

22. To some extent, the present difficulties of the capital goods industries  spring from the fact that the expectations on which the earlier investments were made  have not materialised. In such a situation, industry will have to show considerable  initiative in diversifying production in the light of changing circumstances. Government  also has a responsibility to facilitate this; and to this end, selective relaxations have  already been made in respect of industrial licensing. The decontrol over the pricing  and distribution of steel should also go some way in facilitating this process of adjusting  the pattern of production to the changing pattern of demand both in respect of steel  production as such and in the large number of industries using steel.

23. Again, larger exports offer a way out of the present difficulties of many of  our engineering and other industries. An increase in exports of our newer products is  vitally important from the point of view of achieving a sustained increase in our total  export earnings; and the present situation offers a welcome opportunity, of redoubling  our efforts in this direction. The subsidies that we provide on the export of engineering  and other products should help in this direction. Whereever necessary, we will support  the effort of industry to increase exports of capital goods by suitable credit arrangements  also. But industry also will have to adjust its pricing and other policies in relation to  export orders IT they are to do their part in counteracting current recessionary trends  in a constructive manner. At a time when excess capacity exists, it should be in the  interest of the industry concerned to seek actively new outlets for its products even if  this has to be done without covering in full the normal share of fixed costs.

24. In short, the present industrial scene is compounded of a number of complex  elements and no single or simple answer will suffice to transform it. The approach I  have described is calculated to make the maximum impact on industrial recovery  without jeopardising the chances of restoring price stability.

EXPORT PROMOTION

25. The question of export promotion is, of course, relevant not only to  industries suffering from lack of demand at present but also to the general run of our  economic activities and policies. It cannot but be a matter of great concern that the  momentum in our export earnings, which was witnessed during the early years of  Third Plan, has not been sustained. The performance of exports during 1966-67 has  been particularly disappointing. Of late, there have been signs of a modest recovery in  export earnings. With the revival of agriculture and industry, and continued efforts to  explore markets for them abroad, some further improvement in export earnings can be  expected.

26. Nevertheless, it would be necessary to exercise a restraint on domestic  demand for products which can be exported in larger quantities. Equally, export duties  have to be revised if such a revision becomes necessary in order to maintain the  competitiveness of our major export industries. Quite apart from this, a major  break-through in export earnings can be expected only on the basis of modernisation  and rationalisation of our established industries, and a judicious expansion of capacity  both in agriculture and industry in directions where we have a long-term competitive  advantage. From time to time, special arrangements will have to be made to make sure  that industries and activities with an export potential are given the highest priority in  the allocation of scarce resources. Export industries are now able to import their raw  materials and component requirements for export production from the cheapest source  and with the least administrative intervention. In regard to capital goods imports,  foreign exchange releases for other purposes and rupee finance as well, export.  Industries will have to be given a preferential treatment.

27. Promotion of tourism has a great potential for adding to our foreign  exchange earnings. I propose, therefore, to announce some measures later to help the  tourist industry. We also propose to take steps to prevent the leakage of tourist earnings  to unauthorised channels which still takes place.

28. A hospitable environment for private foreign investment in priority areas  has also considerable bearing on promotion of exports. It is generally recognised that  private foreign investment can make a valuable contribution to reducing our reliance  m imports, particularly when it brings with it know-how and sophisticated techniques  as well as capital resources. But foreign investors can also bring with them knowledge  of foreign markets and the organisation and other resources to exploit them. As they  get to know our own country and potential better, they help promote our exports. We  should, therefore, welcome private foreign investment particularly when it can assist  our export effort.

29. I cannot help emphasising that the restoration of general price stability is  an imperative necessity not only for maintaining social harmony but also for  under-pinning and strengthening our export promotion efforts and indeed, our efforts  to reduce the reliance on imports. Honourable Members may rest assured that we are   determined to do all that we can to maintain the external value of Indian rupee so that  distortions of the kind that led to the devaluation last June, and the necessity for sharp  adjustment in the internal economy that followed from it, are avoided.

30. While everything possible has to be done to promote exports, it has also  got to be recognised that only those exports, which can hold their own in the long run,  should receive the maximum encouragement so that we do not waste our scarce  resources for propping up export earnings which are bound to prove short-lived. An  environment of stability, whether in respect of the general price level or the frame-work  of promotion measures, is absolutely vital for a steady increase in export earnings. A  climate of expectations in which export industries seek to neutralise all their inefficiency  and disadvantages by budgetary support cannot be conducive to enduring and sound  export promotion. It should, therefore, be perfectly clear that while the Government  would be prepared to allocate scarce resources on a priority basis for the export  industries, this preference will have to be justified increasingly in terms of the efforts  of the industries themselves to increase their efficiency and profitability.

IMPORT POLICY

31. What I have just said applies equally to industries which compete with  imports. We have built up considerable capacity for producing a large variety of goods  in the country over the last ten to fifteen years. Through import restrictions as well as  high tariff duties, we have sought to protect domestic industry from competition from  producers abroad who have the advantage of long experience and trained labour force,  not to mention the advantage of easier access to capital and even raw materials. It is  now generally recognised that domestic industries in developing countries require  some protection against foreign competition. However, the development of industries  behind protective walls can lead to distortions and waste of scarce resources unless  industries, which have already been established for some time, became progressively  more efficient. In short, a competitive environment is as vital for the healthy promotion  of import substitution as it is for the sound promotion of exports. That is why we have  relaxed quantitative import restrictions in a selective manner. This policy will be  continued and strengthened as circumstances permit, particularly when it is important  to provide a spur for domestic industry to increase its efficiency.

32. We recognise that Indian industry has still a long way to go in the direction  of diversification and efficient production. Not all the disadvantages from which our  industry suffers can be removed over a short period. Again, as some industries have to  be exposed more and more to international competition, others will emerge and get  established and would require protection in the initial stages not only by way of tariffs  but also by way of quantitative restrictions. What we need, therefore, in regard to  import policy is not some rigid approach, which tends to justify all restrictions for all  time, or its antithesis in which all restrictions are sought to be abolished on a particular  day. What is required is a deliberate and discriminating policy in which the frontiers  of protection keep on moving from time to time and from commodity to commodity;    so that, by progressive stages, protection is removed from some commodities while it  is introduced in the case of other commodities which begin to be produced in the  country.

CONTROLS

33. If Indian industry needs to be exposed to a competitive environment in  relation to exports and imports, such an environment is all the more necessary as  between different industries and between different units in the same industry. This is,  not the occasion for me to review the machinery of controls over investment, distribution  and prices that we have been operating in India for several years now. Our approach  to these controls has been pragmatic; and we have not hesitated to relax them or to  intensify them from time to time in the light of changing circumstances. Basically our  approach to controls has also been positive; we have sought thereby to promote  development by conserving scarce resources. A similar pragmatic and positive approach  would be necessary even for the future. Where it is necessary to retain controls, it  shall be our endeavour to administer them in a manner which minimises delays and  inconvenience and ensures equal treatment to all concerned. It has to be recognised,  however, that controls are only a means to an end and that, by their very nature they  tend to introduce rigidities which often impair efficiency and initiative on the part of  all concerned. Very often the social objectives of controls such as maintaining a measure  of equality between people with different initial advantages and prevention of an  undue concentration of wealth and economic power can be achieved by other means  which may have less inhibiting effect on productive efficiency. That is why, for some  time, we have been following a selective policy of relaxing controls.

34. This question has also been examined by the Administrative Reforms  Commission and by a number of independent experts. We propose to consider their  recommendations carefully. I would only point out at this stage that there cannot be any  question of our giving up the basic objectives behind the controls that we maintain. The  question only is whether these objectives could not be better served by a different  combination of policies in which controls play a less important part than today and other  instruments, particularly fiscal and monetary instruments, play a more active part.  LONG-TERM CONSIDERATIONS  35. This brings me to some of the longer term considerations which have to be  kept in mind even as we deal with our difficult short-term situation. Our immediate  difficulties are essentially the result of two aggressions on our territory and two droughts.  It is, however, important for us to enquire whether they do not signify something more  basic in our plans and policies which also calls for a correction in emphasis if not in  direction.

36. There is general agreement in the country that the highest priority should  be given to agriculture and to family planning in our plans for the next few years. No  one seriously questions also that as soon as possible, and consistent with the avoidance  of inflation, programmes of social betterment should be pursued more vigorously. In  11  this connection, next only perhaps to the importance of providing an adequate supply  of foodgrains comes the necessity of enlarging greatly the facilities for drinking water  all over the country. Improvement in the quality of education and the welfare of  backward classes, particularly of scheduled castes and tribes, will also require more  urgent attention than hitherto.

37. If I am not mistaken, the differences and the doubts that are often expressed  about our plans relate mainly to two or three basic areas. There is, first of all, the  question of the speed with which we can increase the rates of saving and capital  formation in the country. Related to this is the problem of our ability to increase the  productivity of such capital as we already have. Differences are also expressed about  the proportion of available savings which should be invested by the private sector and  the public sector in the light of their respective responsibilities and ability to invest  the savings profitably. There is also some question whether consumer goods industry  or capital goods industry should receive somewhat higher priority than in the recent  past.

38. It is not my intention here to enter into a debate about the pros and cons  of the issues around which differences and doubts of the kind that I have just outlined  revolve. But let me say that if we have over-estimated in the past our capacity to save  as a nation or our capacity to secure a certain return from the capital already invested,  such an over-estimation was, in part, at any rate, intended as a spur to better effort on  the part of all of us. Certainly., in future, we shall have to be more realistic about what  we can do in regard to savings or the improvement in the efficiency of capital over  any given period. But when all care and caution have been exercised, we shall still  have to make an effort to do a little more than what the prudent among us, might  regard as the maximum feasible. What is involved here are the hopes and aspirations  of millions of our people; and it simply will not do to assume that what might be good  and prudent for some of us for some time will also be good and prudent for the  country as a whole for an time.

39. I do not think that there is also any scope for doubt about the importance  of industries in Indian economic development. Under modern conditions, even  agriculture cannot be transformed without a corresponding growth in industries which  either supply the requirements of agriculture or absorb its products. If we attach the  highest priority to agriculture in the present circumstances, it is essentially because of  our desire to be self-sufficient in regard to our food requirements. More generally,  investments in agriculture at the present juncture are capable of making a striking  contribution to both consumption and investment and to an improvement in the balance  of payments. This does not mean, however, that industrial investment can be held in  abeyance.

40. Whether we should make such investment as we make in industry primarily  in consumer goods industries or in capital goods industries is also a question which  cannot be decided on any a priori grounds. Obviously, increases in consumption provide  12  the ultimate justification for all developmental activity; and the total volume of  consumer goods we need will always be substantially larger than the volume of capital  goods we require. At the same time, increases in consumption cannot be sustained  without increasing the level of capital formation.

41. Perhaps in the past, our investment decisions have been guided more by  a general consideration of our long-term needs rather than by a precise assessment of  the relative rate of return in different activities. We will need to rely more, over the  years to come, on an analysis of costs and benefits in different sectors and to guide  our long-term strategy in the light of alternative courses of action. But I have no doubt  that, barring marginal variations from time to time, the general thrust of our  developmental strategy will have to be on a broad front, comprising a wide range of  agricultural and industrial activity. Mistakes certainly have been: made and will perhaps  also be made in future in regard to investment decisions by both the public and the  private sector. But behind the mistakes and miscalculations that we might have made,  there lay, I am sure, a genuine desire to speed up progress, to short-circuit the process  of growth so that the trials and tribulations of our people would be short-lived. While  we should certainly profit from our mistakes and be prepared to rearrange priorities at  any given time in order to meet the exigencies of the situation in the short-run, it  would not be prudent to dismiss the long-term requirements of the economy as  altogether irrelevant.

42. I do not suppose that in any active democracy like ours, there would  ever be complete agreement about the respective roles and abilities of the public  and the private sectors. Both have an important role to play; and I can only say that,  over time, their relative roles win necessarily be determined by their relative abilities.  Without seeking to supplant the private sector, Government is committed to an  expansion of the public sector, and to this end, we shall give the highest priority to  the improvement of the management and efficiency of the public sector enterprises  already created.

43. In keeping with the Directive Principles of our Constitution, Government  is fully committed to the achievement of a socialist society within the framework of  an actively functioning democracy. Much has already been achieved in this connection;  and in the coming months, we propose to explore all possible avenues to make sure  that whatever initiatives we have taken in this regard are pursued and implemented  with vigour and that further progress is made without impairing the productive efficiency  of the economy in general.

BUDGET ESTIMATES FOR 1967-68

44. So, much for economic policies both in the short and the long run, I shall  now summarise briefly the Budget Estimates for 1967-68 as I now wish to present  them and compare them with those given in the interim Budget. But before I do so, I  would like to refer briefly to the Revised Estimates for the year 1966-67 about which  some more information is now available.

45. Honourable Members will recall that I had stated, when presenting the  interim Budget, that the Centre’s budgetary operations for 1966-67 were expected to  show a deficit of as much as Rs.350 crores. Though full details are not yet available,  I am glad to say that the deficit has turned out to be somewhat smaller than anticipated,  namely, of the order of Rs.313 crores. The improvement of Rs.37 crores is the result  of a number of factors of which I shall make only a general mention. The receipts  from tax revenues have been of about the same order as estimated in the Revised  Estimates, in fact, a shade better. External assistance has, however, shown a significant  shortfall. But this has been made up by savings under various items of expenditure.  The foodgrains transactions have turned out to be better than estimated and this accounts  to a large extent for the reduction in the anticipated deficit. The Budget documents  repeat the Revised Estimates as presented earlier as the actual figures in most cases  are not yet available.  46. Turning now to the Budget Estimates for the current year, I shall indicate  the main changes in the interim Budget which I presented in March last. I anticipated  some shortfall in the revenue from Excise Duties on sugar on account of lower  production. But, I expect that this would be made up under other receipts and have,  therefore, not made any change in the estimate of Revenue Receipts.

47. As regards foreign aid, Honourable Members will recall that I had provided  for the utilisation of Rs.835 crores or 1115 million dollars this year. Since then, the  Aid-India Consortium met in Paris and we have had further discussions, including  those with the President of the World Bank. In the interim Budget, I had already taken  credit for some disbursement from the 900 million dollars of non-project assistance  that we expect to be committed this year. It would appear from recent discussions that  the pace of disbursements from the new non-project assistance may be somewhat  quicker. On the other hand, our experience during 1966-67 should warn us against too  optimistic a view of aid disbursements. Taking everything into account, I have increased  the earlier estimate of foreign aid utilisation by Rs.30 crores.

48. The changes made by the Railways in fares and freights will improve the  position of their Funds which are deposited with the General Revenues by Rs.7 crores.  49. Defence expenditure is also proposed to be reduced by Rs.6 crores. In the  interim Budget, this expenditure was only 3 per cent higher than in 1966-67 in money  terms. The cost of maintaining defence services and defence supplies has gone up  over the past 12 months as a result both of internal price rise and the change in the  exchange rate. A substantial reduction in the interim provision for defence, therefore,  is not possible. Honourable Members are aware that we are prepared to explore all  possible avenues of reducing the tension on our borders and of improving our relations  with our two neighbours, China and Pakistan. But as long as these efforts do not meet  with a genuine response, we cannot allow our search for economies to come in the  way of the needs of national security. But consistent with this, it shall be our endeavour  to seek economies in this as in other fields.

50. Since the presentation of the interim Budget, Government has reduced  significantly the fertilizer subsidies, particularly in the context of the higher procurement  prices which are being offered for foodgrains. This, together with reduction in the  purchase price of fertilizers is expected to benefit the current Budget to the extent of  Rs.51 crores in comparison with the interim Budget. Further, a saving of Rs.7 crores  will also be available in respect of the subsidy on sugar exports which are likely to go  down in view of the reduction in sugar output.

51. I have already referred earlier to the additional provision that I propose to  make in respect of some of the Items included in the interim Budget. Assistance to the  States is proposed to be increased by Rs.98 crores including Rs.38 crores for the  scarcity affected areas. I have also allocated an additional Rs.45 crores for the Central  Plan, over and above the provision of Rs.1176 crores made in the interim Budget. Of  this, Rs.14 crores are for Transport, mainly roads, ports and shipping, Rs.6 crores for  Oil exploration and Refining, Rs.5 crores for, Bokaro Steel Plant, Rs.4 crores for the  Union Territories and Rs.3 crores each for Atomic Energy, Posts and Telegraphs and  Family Planning. The rest of the provision relates to Education, Heavy industries,  Rhadi and Village industries, Chemicals and Tourism.

PART B  MOBILISATION OF RESOURCES

52. In the Budget Estimates that I have just presented, the availability of  resources will be higher by Rs.101 crores and expenditures by Rs.143 crores in  relation to the interim Budget. I should, however, explain that I have chosen on this  occasion, for reasons of security, to mention some of the facts in Part B of the  Budget Speech only.  53. On the expenditure side, I have not so far provided anything additional  for assistance to the financial institutions. In the interim Budget, a provision of Rs.30  crores was made for this purpose. This is sufficient for enabling these institutions to  honour all their existing commitments as well as to meet disbursements on new  commitments in respect of the priority sectors of fertilizers, alloy and tool steel and  the like. However, some additional provision for these institutions is necessary if they  are to play a reasonable part in supporting private investment activity and thereby  helping the revival of the investment goods industries. I, therefore, propose to provide  an additional sum of Rs.10 crores for the financial institutions. In a Budget of this  magnitude, It is also necessary to make a provision for contingencies. Taking account  of all the considerations, I estimate that the deficit of the Centre, without any further  mobilisation of resources, would be of the order of Rs.68 crores.

54. By far the best way of mobilising resources is to economise on Government  expenditure without sacrificing efficiency. I have already set in motion a thorough  examination of the expenditure patterns of all Central Ministries. Already, some  decisions have been taken which will reduce the strength of my own Ministry. Similar  decisions in respect of other Ministries will be announced as they are taken. In respect  of Government projects, the Bureau of Public Enterprises will keep a constant watch  in order to secure genuine economies. I do not propose, however, to take any credit at  this stage for reduction in Government expenditure as a result of the economy drive  that I propose to pursue vigorously. In matters like this, It is best to take credit for  success only when success has already been achieved.

55. Better collection of existing taxes is also an important and indeed most  equitable way of mobilising additional resources. This is a continuing programme  where constant endeavours have to be made to improve tax administration as, well as  tax laws. In this connection, we have been experimenting for some time with a new  system of distribution of work in the income-tax Department. Under this system,  particular functions such as those of assessment, collection, refunds, etc., are performed  by the income-tax Officers specifically entrusted with these functions. This experiment  has shown encouraging results. To facilitate the extension of the functional system, I  propose to make specific provisions in the law and I am circulating separately a detailed  note on the subject for the information of Honourable Members. I propose, however,  to take only a small credit for better collection of income-tax this year, as It is premature  to expect any sizeable gain in the early stages of the operation of the scheme.

56. It is also desirable to rely to the maximum extent on mobilisation of  private savings for meeting the requirements of the Government. In the present  conditions in the country, however, It would not be prudent to take credit for anything  more than what I have done in the interim Budget under small savings market  borrowings and the like. At a later stage, I shall refer to one or two fiscal concessions  which I propose to give in order to promote savings. But these measures are designed  with an eye on the long run rather than on improving the budgetary position during the  current year itself.  EXPORT DUTIES  57. Coming to taxation proper, the mostimportant changes involving a loss in  revenue that I have to announce relate to export duties. Our exports of jute manufactures  have declined in the recent past and some of the promising lines are being threatened  with competition from substitutes. I propose, therefore, to reduce the duty on sacking  (other than cotton bagging) by Rs.150 per tonne, on carpet backing and jute specialities  by Rs.300 per tonne and on the other hessians by Rs.150 per tonne. The effect of these  reductions would be a loss of revenue of Rs.13.50 crores in a full year.

58. A reduction of Rs.7.50 per tonne has been proposed in the export duty on  manganese ore having 10 per cent or more but not more than 48 per cent of manganese  content, mainly with a view to offset the effect of the recent increase in railway freight  16  on manganese ore. A marginal reduction of Rs.1 per tonne is also being made in the  export duty on iron ore fines (including blue dust). These changes will result in a loss  of revenue of Rs.83 lakhs in a full year., A change is also being made in respect of the  duty on tea to which I shall refer later.

DIRECT TAXES

59. In respect of direct taxes, I propose to give a number of selective and  indeed minor concessions. The main concessions in respect of taxes on personal incomes  are as follows:  (a) In our society, many of us have to maintain dependent parents or grand  parents. I propose, therefore, to grant a fixed allowance of Rs.400 for  maintenance of one or more of the dependent parents or grand parents in  the case of resident individuals having a total income not exceeding  Rs.10,000. The tax relief on this allowance will be calculated at the rate  of 5 per cent applicable to the initial slab of income. This allowance will  be available only when the dependent parent or grand parent does not  have personal income exceeding Rs.1000 in the year. This concession is  estimated to cost approximately Rs.2 crores.  (b) At present we levy a surcharge on unearned income in excess of Rs.15,000.  I propose to raise this exemption limit to Rs.30,000. In a sense, the principle  of taxing income from investments at a rate higher than income from  work runs counter to the desirability of increased savings. I have, therefore,  sought to take this into account at least partially this year. This concession  will mean a loss of Rs.75 lakhs.  (c) I propose that all tax-payers having dividend incomes not exceeding Rs.500  during the year be allowed to exclude from their taxable income the whole  of the dividend income received by them from Indian companies. This  should encourage equity investment by tax-payers in the lower and middle  income groups. The revenue loss of this measure is estimated at Rs.1.50  crores.  (d) The present limit of the amount of approved savings in life insurance,  Government and recognised provident funds and cumulative time deposits  in Post Offices, which qualify for tax relief in the case of individuals and  Hindu Undivided families, is proposed to be increased from 25 per cent  of the total income to 30 per cent of the total income. The monetary limits  of Rs.12,500 in the case of individuals and Rs.25,000 in the case of Hindu  undivided families will also be raised, simultaneously, to Rs.15,000 and  Rs.30,000 respectively.  (e) Given our present need for resources, I have found it necessary to continue  the Annuity Deposit Scheme. I have, however, made some marginal  modifications in the Scheme. For example, people over the age of 60 need  17  not make a deposit; at present, the age limit is 70 years. Similarly, for all  assessees, no penal tax will apply in case of shortfalls in deposits upto  Rs.100 or upto 10 per cent of the deposits required to be made.  (f) Indian scientists, professors and research workers who spend a part of the  year in foreign universities or other educational or scientific institutions  will be allowed, subject to certain conditions, to deduct from their taxable  income 50 per cent of the remuneration received by them from foreign  sources.  60. I will now summarise some of the concessions-again, selective and  minor-that I propose to give in respect of corporate taxation:  (a) As a measure of relief to small-scale industries in the corporate sector. I  propose to extend the concessional rate of 45 per cent to widely-held  domestic companies having total incomes not exceeding Rs.50,000 as  against Rs.25,000 at present. This is likely to result in a loss to revenue of  about Rs.18 lakhs.  (b) As a tourist promotion measure, I propose to extend the priority industry  treatment to approved hotels run by Indian companies. Further, I propose  to provide for the allowance of initial depreciation of hotel buildings  constructed by such companies after the 31st March 1967 in an amount of  25 per cent of their cost of construction. Some other relaxations are also  proposed in favour of the hotel industry.  (c) It has often been represented that our present tax-holiday concession does  not benefit adequately those undertakings for which profitability is usually  low in the initial years. In order to make the tax exemption more meaningful  in such cases, I propose to allow a carry-forward of the unabsorbed benefit  of the ‘tax-holiday’ relating to the assessment year 1967-68, onwards,  upto eight years from the year of commencement of the business.  (d) The existing tax law has certain features which inhibit desirable  amalgamations of companies by attracting certain liabilities on such  amalgamation. Merging of uneconomic units is desirable in order to  improve productivity and realise economies of scale. I propose to facilitate  this process by removing the existing disabilities in the matter in the law.  (e) The progress in resettlement of displaced persons from East Pakistan and  repatriates from Burma, Ceylon and certain East African countries has  been painfully slow. To supplement the efforts made in this direction by  the State Governments, it is proposed, subject to some conditions, to allow  industrial units employing such displaced persons and repatriates to deduct  50 per cent of their profits in computing their taxable income.  18  (f) I also propose to provide certain tax concessions to industries damaged or  destroyed by enemy action or by natural calamities.  (g) In order to promote scientific research in our country, I propose to enhance  the rate of development rebate on machinery and plant installed for scientific  research after the 31st March 1967, from the existing general rate of 20 per  cent, to the priority rate of 35 per cent. Further, the whole of the capital  expenditure incurred after the 31st March, 1967 on assets used for scientific  research 111 be allowed as a deduction in the year in which It is incurred.  61. The combined effect of the various concessions in direct taxes that I have  listed will be a reduction in revenue of about Rs.5 crores in a full year. I do not  propose, however, to take any debit for this item as a reduction in revenue of this  order should be made up by better tax collection assisted by the proposed extension  over a wider area of deduction of taxes at source.

62. In addition to the changes in direct taxes which I have described, a few  other changes are proposed in the Finance Bill which are intended either to continue  the existing concessions or to clarify the intentions of the present law. I do not propose  to describe these here as they are set out in detail in the explanatory memorandum on  the Finance Bill.

63. Some time back Government appointed Shri S.Bhoothalingam, formerly  Secretary. Ministry of Finance, as a one-man Committee for recommending measures  for simplifying and rationalising the existing structure of direct and indirect taxation.  Shri Bhoothalingam recently submitted his first interim Report, which relates  exclusively to direct taxes, particularly income tax. Copies of this Report will be  made available to Honourable Members as soon as possible. Apart from simplification  and rationalisation, the Report also suggests a reconsideration of some of the policy  aspects of the present tax structure. In a sense, major modifications in the tax structure  should not be made in one area, without examining similar suggestions for application  to other areas. It is also desirable that on substantive issues, this Honourable House,  expert public opinion and people at large should have an opportunity to express their  views before Government makes up its mind. I propose, therefore, to publish also the  subsequent reports of Shri Bhoothalingam. It is my intention that the publication of  these reports will provide an occasion for Parliament and for others to discuss some  of the basic aspects of the tax structure so that it can be put on a sound and progressive  basis as soon as possible. It is, for this reason, quite apart from the difficult financial  situation in the current year, that I have decided to restrict my proposals for modification  in the direct tax structure to a minimum. It is my intention, however, to introduce even  in the present Budget some of the measures of rationalisation and simplification which  have been recommended in the interim Report.

64. One of the main recommendations is that changes in the tax laws and rates  of taxation should be applied prospectively to current incomes. The existing practice of  19  applying the rates of tax to incomes already earned in the past year, which has been  followed over a long period of years, is not sound in principle. The annual Finance Acts  not only prescribe rates of tax but often provide incentives or disincentives in various  directions. Such incentives or disincentives can obviously be meaningful only if they are  applied prospectively. Apart from this consideration, it stands to reason that the tax-payer  should know before hand his tax liability for any given income year. I propose, therefore,  to apply the several measures for making changes in the tax laws as also in the tax rates,  prospectively, to current incomes which will fall due for assessment next year, except  where it is felt that a particular measure calls for retrospective application for special  reasons. We also propose to consider seriously the recommendations about adopting a  standard tax year co-terminous with the financial year.

65. Another measure recommended for simplifying tax calculations is the  elimination of most of the areas in which calculations of rebates and reliefs have to be  made at present by applying the average rate of tax on the total income. In these areas,  I propose to make provisions for allowing a straight deduction of the whole or a  specified proportion of the income qualifying for the rebate or relief in computing the  taxable income. Similar provisions will also be made for calculating rebate of tax on  charitable donations. Donations to the Prime Minister’s Drought Relief Fund will be  added to the categories of donations which at present qualify for tax relief without the  operation of the ceiling limit of 10 per cent of the total income or Rs.2 lakhs, which  applies to ordinary charitable donations.

66. There is only one other significant change in respect of direct taxes, which  I might mention here. At present, tax is withheld at source in the case of Indian residents  out of their income consisting only of salaries, interest on securities, or dividends. In  order to improve and speed up the collection of tax, it is proposed to extend, in the case  of residents, the requirement of deduction of tax at source to interest on deposits, loans  or other borrowings as well as to fees for professional services and brokerage and  commission payable by banks, companies and other organised entitles. However, in  order to avoid hardship, certain exemptions are being provided.

POSTS AND TELEGRAPHS

67. As the House is aware, the Postal and Telegraph Branches of the Posts  and Telegraphs Department have been working at a loss. Most of the services we  provide on the Postal side are unremunerative. The cost of services has increased  appreciably during recent years. To meet the loss partially, It is proposed to raise  slightly the rate of postage on parcels, registered newspapers, book packets etc., as  also to raise the registration fee and fees for express delivery, insurance and air mail  fee on packets. The additional annual revenue expected from these increases in the  postal rates is about Rs.1.84 crores. On the Telegraph side, it is proposed to raise the  minimum charge on an ordinary Greetings telegram and the rate for Express Greetings  telegram. The existing rate for non-Press inland telegrams will remain unchanged but  the minimum charge will be for the first 8 words instead of first 10 words as at  20  present. The rental for a teleprinter machine is proposed to be raised and revision is  also proposed in the rental for part-time telegraph and teleprinter circuits other than  those given to the Press. (Details of the principal changes in the Posts and Telegraphs  tariffs are given in a separate memorandum). These measures are expected to yield an  annual revenue of Rs.1.02 crores. Opportunity has also been taken to rationalise the  tariffs for various telephone services and make certain minor revisions therein. The  additional annual revenue from the various changes proposed in the telephone tariffs  is expected to amount to Rs.1.58 crores.  68. The proposed changes in the Postal, Telegraph and Telephone rates will  not come into effect immediately. The dates from which they will be operative will be  notified later. These changes will yield Rs.4.44 crores in a full year and Rs.3 crores in  the rest of the current year. As however, the Posts and Telegraph Revenue is not now  expected to come upto the interim Budget Estimate, I am taking credit for an additional  Rs.1 crore only on this account.

EXCISE AND CUSTOMS

69. I turn now to my proposals in regard to Union Excise Duties. The large  number of changes that I have made in direct taxes will not make any significant  difference to the Government’s budgetary position. Import duties have been rationalised  on a number of occasions in the recent past including at the time of devaluation last  June. Honourable Members will recall that although the import tariff was adjusted to  take account of the higher rupee cost of imports, the total incidence of devaluation  and import tariff was such as to increase substantially the rupee cost of all Imports  including the import of machinery, raw materials and spares. It is not desirable to give  another jolt to the economy by any further increases in import duties. It is, therefore,  inevitable that I should essentially increase the Union Excise Duties for raising  additional revenues in order to balance the Budget after allowing for the effect of the  reduction in export duties.

70. have, however, endeavoured to adjust excise duties in such a way that  apart from raising additional resources, these adjustments will be consistent with the  requirements of the current economic situation. Thus, in the main, I have endeavoured  to increase duties on those Items where (a) it is necessary to exercise some restraint on  domestic consumption in order to augment export earnings, or (b) where high profits  are made by industry and trade at present or (c) where some increase in prices cannot  be considered socially undesirable. In particular, I have sought to ensure that prices of  essential consumer goods are not affected and that the demand for those industries  which are already saddled with considerable excess capacity is, not further depressed.  Altogether, additional excise duties are proposed to be levied on only a limited range  of selected Items so that the price situation is not disturbed at many points. This  explains in part the sizeable increases that I propose in a few cases.

71. I propose to raise the excise duties on coffee and tea so that the internal  consumption of these is restrained and more quantities are made available for export.  21  These increases will yield a revenue of Rs.8.40 crores in a fun year without taking  into account the revenue loss from reduction in the export duties on tea to neutralise  the effect of the higher excise on export shipments. In the case of tea, the increase  proposed is lower on cheaper tea than on the higher priced teas from Zones III, IV and  V. Similarly, the increase on the cheaper Robusta or Liberia variety of coffee is less  than on superior varieties like Arabica.

72. Another export item on which I propose to increase the duty is jute  manufactures. The existing basic excise duties on hessians and other jute manufactures  which are Rs.250 and Rs.125 per tonne respectively are being raised to Rs.375 and  Rs.175 per tonne. The effect of this will be an additional revenue of Rs.3.00 crores  annually. As usual, the duties will be rebated on export shipments.

73. As for tea exports, the effect of higher excise duties on exports will be  neutralised by a reduction in export duties by 24 paise per kilogram. While this will  fully offset the burden of the excise duty increase on the higher priced varieties, the  inferior teas from Zones I and II will have a slight edge over the others as the export  duty reduction in their case will exceed the excise duty increases. While making this  reduction in the export duty, the rate schedule is also being simplified and rationalised  to obviate the practical difficulties in the present system of levy. The effect of the  reduction proposed will be a loss of Rs.4.68 crores annually so that in the net Rs.3.72  crores would be realised from tea and coffee in a full year.

74. I propose to re-impose the duty on footwear and parts which have a good  export potential. This duty was withdrawn by an exemption as a part of the Budget  proposals of February 1965. As before, footwear made without the aid of power or in  small power operated establishments will continue to be exempted. This proposal will  yield an additional revenue of Rs.2.75 crores annually.

75. It is necessary also to restrain the increasing consumption of cigarettes  which cuts into the exportable surplus available of cigarette tobacco, an important  foreign exchange earner. I, therefore, propose to raise substantially the duties on  cigarettes which would yield a revenue of Rs.28.50 crores annually. The increase  proposed on higher priced cigarettes will be more than on the cheaper varieties. Some  increase has been proposed also on cigars and cheroots, the yield from which will be  about one lakh of rupees. I realise that the increase proposed is high. But Honourable  Members and others can at least escape its incidence by reducing consumption and  thus perhaps prolonging their lives in the bargain.

76. Honourable Members will recall that at the time of devaluation, excise  and customs duties on petroleum products were adjusted in such a way as to avoid any  increase in their price. This step meant a considerable loss of revenue for the  Government and was in fact on par with the subsidies given on foodgrains and fertilizers  at the time for the same purpose. Subsidies on, fertilizers have already been reduced.  I see no reason why the prices of some of the petroleum products also should not be    allowed to rise, reflecting the effect of devaluation. I propose, therefore, to increase  the basic excise duty on motor spirit from Rs.451.05 per kilolitre to Rs.550 per kilolitre  and on refined diesel and vaporising oils from Rs.441.05 to Rs.461.05 per kilolitre.  The excise duty on petroleum products not otherwise specified is also proposed to be  increased from 10 per cent ad valorem to 20 per cent ad valorem. These increase on  mineral oil products will yield a revenue of Rs.25.60 crores annually. Honourable  Members would note that these changes will not result in any increase in the price of  kerosene, of diesel oil used by agriculturists or fuel oil which is used by industry. In  fact, the increase in the case of refined diesel oil is also marginal-of the order of 2  pales per litre.

77. I come now to a few less essential Items of consumption where there is  scope for mopping up the high profits made or where even an increase in the price to  consumers will not be a great hardship. The basic excise duty on artificial or synthetic  resins and plastic materials is proposed to be raised from 20 per cent to 30 per cent ad  valorem which will yield an additional revenue of Rs.4.5 crores annually.

78. Production of rayon and synthetic fibres and yarn has increased and the  margin of profit on these is also high. I, therefore, propose to make a substantial  increase in the excise duties. The increase on cellulosic fibres and yarn, such as viscose  rayon and acetate rayon will be lower than the increases proposed on non-cellulosic  fibres and yarn such as polyster fibre and nylon yarn. The effect of the increases  proposed will be an additional revenue of Rs.22 crores annually.

79. The excise duty on aluminium has remained unchanged since 1960 and  there has been a substantial increase in the indigenous production in the recent years.  I propose to increase the basic excise duty on aluminium ingots from Rs.300 to Rs.950  per tonne on plates, sheets, circles and strips from Rs.500 to Rs.1450 per tonne, and  on foils from Rs.600 o Rs.2000 per tonne; the duties on pipes, tubes and extruded  shapes and sections are also being raised from 10 per cent to 20 per cent ad valorem.  These changes will bring in an additional revenue of Rs.10.98 crores annually.

80. It is my expectation that in the case of aluminium, rayon and synthetic  fibres, it should be possible for producers to absorb the increase in the excise duties  without any increase in the prices charged to consumers in any event, producers of  these products will not be allowed to increase their present prices without prior  consultations with the Government. If, on examination, it is found that the additional  excise duties cannot be absorbed by producers without a change in the price charged  to consumers, we shall be prepared to take appropriate remedial action. However, It is  our intention to make sure that to the maximum extent possible, the incidence of  higher duties in these cases is absorbed in the profits made at present by producers  and distributors.

81. The present structure of excise on cotton textiles allows such a high margin  of preference to powerlooms that it encourages tax avoidance. This has been pointed out  23  by two successive Committees. I propose, therefore, to raise the excise duty on cotton  twist, yarn and thread Which go into the production of fine and superfine fabrics in the  powerloom sector. The increase win be mostly on sized yarn cleared in the form of sized  beams required for weaving in the powerloom factories. Rates of duty on sized yarn of  fine and superfine counts are proposed to be raised in such a way that the margin of  difference in the excise duty between powerloom and mill-made grey fabrics of fine and  superfine varieties is narrowed sufficiently. These changes will, however, not affect the  handloom sector as the duty on hank yarn is not being raised. The duty on mill fabrics  will also remain unchanged as the increase in the yarn compounded duty is being offset  by a corresponding reduction in the grey fabric duty, so that the cumulative effect leaves  the duty on fine and super fine grey fabrics unchanged. The effect of these changes will  be an additional revenue of Rs.7.80 crores annually.

82. The only new Item on which excise duty is proposed to be imposed this  year is rubber piping, tubing and belting. These are being added to the item of rubber  products like latex foam sponge and tread rubber which are already excisable. The  proposed basic excise duty on these new rubber products will be 15 per cent ad  valorem which will yield an additional revenue of Rs.1.98 crores annually.  83. Special excise duties will continue to be levied at the existing rates subject  to modifications consequent on the changes proposed in the basic excise duties outlined  earlier. The provision for levy of regulatory excise duty in the same manner as in  section 49 of the Finance Act, 1966 is being continued though there will be no levy of  this duty at present.

84. The total effect of all the proposed changes in the excise duties will be an  additional revenue of Rs.115.52 crores in a full year out of which Rs.22.98 crores will  go to the States.

85. I have not proposed any increase in the import duties. But wherever excise  duties have been increased or modified the countervailing duties on imported goods  equivalent to such increases will be chargeable in addition to the existing duties. In  the case, of Imported aluminium ingots and wire bars the increase in the countervailing  duty will not be to the full extent of the excise duty increases but will be lower by  R9.400 per tonne. The increases in countervalling duties will yield an additional revenue  of Rs.7.33 crores annually.

86. I have already discussed earlier the reductions in export duties. Taking  into account the loss of Rs.19.01 crores annually under these Items and the increases  on account of countervailing duties, the net loss of customs revenue would be Rs.11.68  crores in a fun year. Taking excise duties and customs duties together, the total additional  revenue in the full year will be of the order of Rs.103.84 crores of which Rs.22.98  crores will go to the States and balance will accrue to the Centre. However, during the  current year, the changes in customs and excise duties will apply not for the full year  but only for a little over ten months. During the current year, therefore, the additional  24  revenue accruing to the Centre will be of the order of Rs.68 crores. Changes in posts  and Telegraph rates will bring in Rs.1 crore. The additional revenues of about Rs.69  crores win more than cover the initial deficit of Rs.68 crores. Essentially, therefore,  the Budget that I am presenting now is a balanced one. Honourable Members would  also note that in addition to the substantially larger resources made available to the  States from the Central Budget, the State Governments will benefit subtantially to the  extent of almost Rs.20 crores by the taxation proposed here.

87. I am well aware that I have been able to balance the Budget primarily by  keeping the Plan .outlays strictly in check. The provision for the Plan in the Budget,  for Central schemes, assistance to the States and to the financial institutions taken  together is not materially different from the level of the first year of the Fourth Plan.  At a time when essential consumer goods are in short supply and when it is difficult  to reduce subsidies, I could not have provided more for the Plan without jeopardising  the chances of restoring price stability. Considerable restraint has also been exercised  in regard to non-Plan outlays at the Centre, the bulk of which relate to interest payments  which are contractual obligations and to defence.

88. To those who may have been looking forward to sizeable reductions in  taxation, I will say only this. As long as we in this Honourable House remain responsive  to the needs and aspirations of the poor and the downtrodden, there will always be  need for the Government, no matter what its persuasion, to command a growing volume  of resources from year to year. Some of the resources available to the Government at  present, such as the counterpart of PL 480 supplies of foodgrains etc., should not and  indeed cannot continue for long, Before giving any tax concessions, therefore, I would  like to be doubly sure that there is at least a reasonable chance of such a step contributing  to larger revenues by stimulating activity or savings in general. Under the present  circumstances, I see no clear prospect of this; but we will explore all possible avenues  of putting our tax structure on a sound, stable and progressive basis. My main  justification for the selective but sizeable increases in excise duties is that these are  necessary in the interest of exports and for avoiding too deep a cut in Plan outlays.  Indeed, even as it is, I do not feel happy about not being able to provide more for the  Plan than we did last year. That is why we propose to pursue a more positive policy  of encouraging public and private investment activity as soon as the basic supply  position in the country improves.

89. In the meanwhile, I can only hope that this Budget wig contribute to the  restoration of 6 climate of stability which is so essential for sound and sustained  growth. We are determined also to redouble our efforts to provide a clean and efficient  administration. I have every confidence that at this difficult juncture, all sections of  the community-farmers, workers, businessmen and leaders of public opinion-will give  of their best so that the spell of stagnation which has been upon us for more than two  years how is lifted and we begin to move forward once again to our cherished goals.  (May 25, 1967)

Previous Budgets