Better monsoon this year will help check inflation: Arun Jaitley

Mumbai: With rains this year having advanced well into the country, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday said a better monsoon would help check food inflation. "It appears that the rain gods may be kinder this year to us than they were last year," he said at the Nabard foundation day celebrations here.

Expressing the hope that the monsoon would be as good as it was last month, Jaitley said the department of agriculture expects better rainfall in most parts of India for higher yields of oilseeds and pulses, whose prices are currently a concern in terms of inflation.

"I hope their estimates turn out to be true," he said. The finance minister also referred to Saturday's official data on overall growth in indirect tax revenue collections during the first quarter and said rising tax revenues and improving macroeconomic fundamentals will take the economy to an accelerated growth trajectory.

"Saturday's indirect revenue data for the first quarter did indicate that customs duty, excise duty and service tax, even without additional revenue measures, were up 14.5 percent over the past fiscal," he said. "There are some sporadic data which indicate a significant recovery," the finance minister said.

"With the ongoing reforms process, and some more significant changes like goods and services tax in the pipeline, increased infra spending, emphasis on smart cities -- when all these initiatives get onto the field, then our aspiration to cross that 8 percent growth and get to the 8-10 percent level is not something which is completely out of sight," he added.

"The silver lining is that the revenue situation may be more comfortable, compared with last year," Jaitley said. The overall growth in indirect tax revenue collections during the April-June quarter was 37.4 percent.

"The overall growth in indirect tax revenue (provisional) collections during the first quarter of current fiscal year, that is, April-June 2015, have increased from Rs.112,094 crore to Rs.153,980 crore suggesting an increase of 37.4 percent over the corresponding period in the last financial year," an official statement said on Saturday.

It added that in June 2015, the indirect tax collections increased by 33.3 percent compared to June 2014. These increases were spread across all three tax categories of "customs, central excise and service tax".

"These collections reflect, in part, additional measures taken, including the excise increase on diesel and petrol, increase in clean energy cess, the withdrawal of exemptions for motor vehicles and consumer durables, and in June, the increase in service tax from 12.36 percent to 14 percent," it said.

It further said these collections indicate that the underlying momentum in the economy is improving, across all sectors, including manufacturing, reflected in healthy excise tax collections.

"The growth in underlying indirect tax collections of 14.5 percent suggests a healthy increase in nominal gross domestic product growth, which constitutes the tax base for indirect tax collections," the statement added.

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