India Markets open in 8 hrs 9 mins

FPIs demands rollback of higher surcharge; Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman refrains from comment

New Delhi: Capital market participants and foreign institutional investors presented a charter of demands to Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, which included rollback of surcharge on FPIs, review of dividend distribution tax and lowering of LTCG tax, in a bid to shore up investors' sentiments. Sources said Sitharaman gave a patient hearing to them but restrained from making any firm commitments. Equity benchmarks rose for the second straight session on Friday amid hopes that the government may take some market-friendly measures to jump start the sluggish economy and assuage investor concerns over taxation. The meeting is part of the exercise being undertaken by the minister to firm up steps to increase investments and boost economy, which is showing signs of slowdown.

During the meeting, it was also suggested that employees' provident fund should increase its exposure in the stock market, which in turn would improve liquidity, industry and official sources added. There was also a suggestion that the long-term capital gains (LTCG) tax be abolished or at least reduced. They suggested that higher surcharge on income beyond Rs 2 crore, which was imposed in the Budget, should not be applicable on FPIs. The government's decision on surcharge had impacted the market.

Participants also expressed concerns over the current KYC norms for FPIs and demanded it should be relaxed as part of ease of doing business. There was also a demand to abolish the withholding tax on masala bonds or rupee-denominated bonds. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Vikaram Limaye, CEO and MD of NSE, said the minister was "very receptive". He, however, did not elaborate on the discussions.