New Delhi: Apprehending slippages in tax collection, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday asked revenue officials to beef up efforts to achieve the budgeted target in the remaining period of the current fiscal.
"There is of course apprehension that you may fall short of budget target. But, nevertheless, in the remaining seven weeks or so you must make efforts to achieve the budgeted target," Chidambaram said while addressing officials of the Central Board of Excise and Customs (CBEC).
Government has budgeted to collect over Rs 5.05 lakh crore in the current fiscal from indirect taxes that comprise excise, customs and service tax.
The indirect tax collection during April-November grew at a moderate rate of 16.8 percent to Rs 2.92 lakh crore, as against the annual growth target of 27 percent.
Finance Minister attributed the subdued growth in tax collection to slackening economic activity.
"This has been a difficult year for tax collection too. As economy slowed down, imports also slowed down, manufacturing too was subdued and therefore collections have been affected," he said, adding that he has urged the board to continue with efforts to achieve the budgeted target.
The industrial output growth shrank 0.1 percent in November. Imports in the first nine months of this financial year dipped by 0.71 percent to USD 361.2 billion.
The economy grew by 5.4 percent in the first half of the current fiscal, lower than 7.3 percent growth clocked in the year-ago period.
It is likely to grow by 5.7 percent in the current fiscal, which would be a decade's low. This is lower than 6.2 percent recorded in the previous year.
The Minister also asked the tax officials to shift to technology driven regime instead of following "heavy handed" tax administration.
Chidambaram said the shift in tax administration system will not be smooth, but "we cannot abandon that path".
He said, "as we go forward, we should rely more on technology, non-intrusive intelligence gathering, and a non-adversarial tax administration.
"Once the tax payer is confident that the relationship between a tax payer and officer is not a hostile relationship, you will find more and more people have become complaint to tax laws."
Speaking on the occasion, Revenue Secretary Sumit Bose said: "we will collect taxes in just and fair manner".
He further said that all efforts would be made to stick to the path of fiscal prudence which has been clearly laid down by the government.
The government proposes to restrict fiscal deficit to 5.3 per cent of GDP in the current fiscal and bring it down to 4.8 per cent in the next fiscal.
In November last year the government had said it would be difficult to achieve the corporate tax, customs and excise mop-up target as projected in the budget because of subdued corporate activity.
While excise has yielded over Rs 1.08 lakh crore during April-November 2012, collection from customs and services tax worked out to over Rs 1.04 lakh crore and Rs 78,774 crore, respectively.