Not more than 5,000 super-rich in India, tax hiked to help poor: Sitharaman

FM Nirmala Sitharaman
The decision to raise the tax on the super-rich was taken with an aim to get them to participate in the government's initiatives in supporting the country's poor, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said at a conference in Chennai today. Adding that there are no more than 5,000 people are in the super-rich category, she asserted that the tax enhancement was not robbery, but an effort to help everybody grow.

In the Union Budget proposals presented on July 5, the finance minister has proposed enhancing the surcharge on individuals having taxable income between Rs 2 crore and Rs 5 crore so as to raise the overall tax rate applicable to this category by about three per cent. Those earning Rs 5 crore and above would suffer an additional tax burden of around seven per cent.

Speaking at the International Business Conference of Nagarathars (IBCN), a biennale business conference by the Nagarathar Chamber of Commerce (NCC), Sitharaman said that the enhanced tax was intended to ensure the super-rich took on a greater share of the responsibility of taking care of the poor. "Please dont think that we just imposed the tax without any thought behind it," she stressed.

Not a suitcase carrying government

Sitharaman, who emphasised on reviving traditional culture and practices of doing business, said she did not carry a suitcase to Parliament on Budget Day, as the baggage has nothing to do with the Modi Government.

Stating that her not carrying the 'English' suitcase to Parliament to present the Budegt became big news, she reminded the audience that it was a practice in the country during Navaratri or Pooja to respect books with a vermilion mark, flower and Akshatha (rice offered during pooja).  

"That is our culture. All of us do that. But of course, I did not put turmeric, verimillion or Akshatha on the budget copy. It is a secular government. But yet, I haven't carried a leather suitcase also," Sitharaman said. 

"There were also discussions on whether it was not taken because it is made of leather. No, I did not think to that level. When it comes to a suitcase, it has another connotation. We are not a government carrying suitcases. There is no use for a suitcase in the Modi government. It is not in our culture to purchase by giving a suitcase. No body has the business of carrying suitcase in this government. Giving and taking are transparent through tender notice and that is why I thought we don't need the suitcase," she said.

She added that the Nagarathar community should work with the government to provide the culture practices in business and soft skills that have been developed traditionally over the years. Sitharaman asserted that the government was not just talking about Ease of Doing Business, but was also speaking about Ease of living. While the government will support ease of doing business for the youth, the people should also be able to live their lives without worrying too much. The government is trying to bring the improvements in the system to achieve this.

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