Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 15 October 2019

Under-pressure Indian government slashes corporate tax

The announcement sent shares soaring more than 5 per cent in Mumbai

Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced several measures to boost the exports and manufacturing sector in India. EPA
Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has announced several measures to boost the exports and manufacturing sector in India. EPA

India said on Friday it would slash corporate taxes to among the lowest in Asia as part of its drive to help the stuttering economy, sending the country's stock market surging as analysts predicted a renewal of interest in the region.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the main rate for domestic firms would fall to 22 per cent from 30 per cent as New Delhi aims to attract companies spooked by the China-US trade war that has hammered global supply chains.

The move looks to give a lift to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who faces increasing pressure to relight a once-stellar economy after five consecutive quarters of slowing growth rates saw India this year lose its status as the fastest-expanding major economy to China.

Ms Sitharaman said that to "attract fresh investment in manufacturing and boost Make In India" the tax rate for new companies would be cut to 15 per cent from 25 per cent, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

She told reporters the new rates would be "comparable with the lowest tax rates in South Asian region and in South East Asia".

The announcement sent shares soaring more than 5 per cent in Mumbai - the biggest jump in 10 years.

Jeffrey Halley at New York-based Oanda - that provides currency solutions to corporate clients - said the cuts were "likely to re-energise investor interest in the sub-continent" after two and a half years "of slowing growth and disappointment in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's reform progress".

Authorities have in recent weeks rolled out a series of measures to boost the economy and battle grinding unemployment, which is at its highest since the 1970s.

Among its latest measures are lifting a ban on government departments buying new cars as it looks to support the auto sector, which saw sales dive 41 per cent last month.

The Reserve Bank of India - reportedly under government pressure - has cut interest rates four times this year to a nine-year low, while New Delhi has also announced the merger of 10 state banks to try to ease pressure on lenders.

The government has also eased restrictions on foreign investment in four key sectors, including coal mining, in an effort to attract more overseas capital.

Ashutosh Datar, an independent economist, said the tax cuts were "long overdue as India has one of the highest tax rates in the world".

Updated: September 20, 2019 04:38 PM

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