ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Vision of the Kelkar Papers

The approach of the Kelkar Task Forces on direct and indirect taxes suffers from certain basic deficiencies for which the consultation papers put out by them have come under flak from large sections of the taxpaying public. The deficiencies are twofold: (1) lack of a strategy to secure majority support, and (2) absence of a sound conceptual framework. In a way the two are interrelated; failure to visualise a strategy stems partly from the weaknesses of the conceptual foundations of the proposed reforms. This essay seeks to explore the sources and nature of these deficiencies. Since the proposals relating to direct taxes have attracted most attention, the discussion here is confined mainly to the direct taxes paper, especially the structural reform proposals, though some observations are made on the proposals for reform of indirect taxes and the administrative system as well.

'Equalisation' as Goal of Centre-State Transfers

The finest legacy of the late I S Gulati is in the field of federal financial relations. The goal set by Gulati for federal transfers, viz, equalisation of primary civic services based on acceptable standards or norms is unexceptionable. Norm-based equalisation serves both equity and efficiency. It is to be hoped that the legacy left behind by Gulati will be picked up by the Twelfth Finance Commission which is to be formed soon.

Enforcing the Constitution's Common Market Mandate

Considering the adverse implications for centre-state relations and the states' autonomy of the growing practice of attaching conditions to central grants to persuade states to implement fiscal and other economic policy reforms - quite apart from whether the conditions are likely to be effective at all - serious thought needs to be given to superior alternatives to enable the central government to discharge its constitutional responsibility to preserve the nationwide common market. And since the centre itself is quite often a party to measures that constrain free trade, it is all the more necessary to entrust the task of enforcing the Constitution's common market mandate to an independent authority such as that contemplated in Article 307.

'Rethinking Federalism'

It is time we took a fresh look at the core issues of federalism in the light of experience and academic work in the area. This paper seeks to provide an overview of current debates focusing on the basic issues that arise in translating the ideals of federalism into practice and the dilemma or trade-offs involved in order that any reforms sought to be undertaken are guided by informed judgment.

Reforming the Property Tax Base-Need for a New Direction

Reforming the Property Tax Base Need for a New Direction Amaresh Bagchi White acknowledging the urgent need for reform of property tax to achieve some standardisation and to reduce the scope for subjective judgment and abuse, this paper seeks to draw attention to the limitations of the models that have been put forward for replacing the existing base for property tax with a non-transparent area based system and the need for moving towards a base such as capital value which is more amenable to standardisation without giving rise to troublesome questions about adequacy of classification and so on. A properly devised capital value base, it is argued, will serve to capture the chief merits of standardisation in conformity with the canon of equity as enshrined in our Constitution.

Central Sales Tax Why It Must Go

[Zelliot 1996:22]. 4 VKRV Rao called Swami Vivekanand as the Prophet of Vedantic Socialism for his emphasis on equality and the right of all oppressed people to human dignity [Rao 1979].

Tenets of Tenth Finance Commission-A Critique

The experience of the last four decades shows that the system of federal transfers in India while providing a mechanism for addressing the vertical and horizontal imbalances significantly, has run almost into a dead-end primarily because of two factors: (i) the approach of the Finance Commissions in tackling the tasks set for them, and (ii) the dichotomy between plan and non-plan segments of the government budgets.

India s Tax Reform-A Progress Report

India's Tax Reform A Progress Report Amaresh Bagchi Three years is too short a period to judge the results of India's tax reform undertaken as a key component of structural adjustment. Even so, some stock-taking of what has been achieved so Jar in the light of the stated goals might he in order. That is the aim of this note.

Financing Urban Local Governments-Issues and Approaches

Issues and Approaches Amaresh Bagchi Urban Public Finance In Developing Countries by Roy W Babl and Johannes P Linn; World Bunk, 1992; pp 552 + xiii.

UNITED STATES-Budget-Making with a Difference

Budget-Making with a Difference Amaresh Bagchi While it is difficult to predict what will be the final shape of president Clinton's plan for remaking the American economy, even critics are acknowledging that Clinton's State of the Union address will go down as a landmark in the country's economic history for setting the US economy on a new course.

Riding the Free Rider-A Lesson from Barrackpore

Riding the Free Rider A Lesson from Barrackpore Amaresh Bagchi People do not mind paying for services provided by public agencies if they know that riding free is not an available option and, more important, if they are convinced that they are not being taken for a ride when asked to pay for services which come within the domain of 'public good' the consumption of which, in public finance jargon, is 'non-rival'. That is the message for those at the helm of public affairs in the country from the none-too-affluent West Bengal town of Barrackpore.

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