Allow us to issue tax-free bonds: Bankers to government

New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) Bankers Monday demanded that commercial banks in the country should be allowed to issue tax-free infrastructure bonds and the lock-in period for tax saving deposits brought down to three years from five.

Top officials of Indian banks made these demands during a meeting here with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram as part of the pre-budget consultations.

"Some of the banks made a request that they should also be allowed to issue tax-free bonds as has been allowed to other financial institutions," State Bank of India (SBI) Chairman Pratip Chaudhuri told reporters after the meeting.

Chaudhuri said some banks have good distribution networks that could help raise funds for infrastructure projects.

Bankers have also requested the government to reduce lock-in period for tax saving deposits to three years from the existing five years, in line with the equity linked saving schemes (ELSS).

"There is a requirement that the lock-in period should be reduced from five years to three years on the tax saving deposits to bring it in line with tax saving ELSS," he said.

Bankers have also suggested that the Urban Cooperative Banks should be treated at par with those in rural areas.

Some 22 top bankers representing different banking and financial institutions participated in the customary pre-budget meeting. RBI deputy governor K.C. Chakraborty, SBI chairman Pratip Chauduri, PNB chairman K.R. Kamath, and ICICI Bank chief executive officer Chanda Kochhar, among others, participated in the meeting.

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