New Delhi, November 16:

Indian finance minister P Chidambaram today ruled out an income tax on the 75 million tribal population, who are exempt from such levies, saying he was not interested in triggering a controversy.

“This a historical matter. There have been numerous debates on this,” the finance minister told the three-day long economic editors conference here, when asked if the government proposed to withdraw the income tax exemption on tribals.

“We need to study this in detail. I don’t want to start another controversy,” Chidambaram said, adding there could also be no provisions to ask the tribals to file their returns, even if they continue to be exempt from income tax. India’s 75 million tribals, spread across 573 tribes, constitute eight percent of the country’s population of 1.1 billion. The FM also shared his views on regional disparities, especially the non-commensurate prog-ress in the north-eastern states and said, “The problem is of deficit of governance.” He said that while funds were being provided adequately to the states, the implementation and targeting of various schemes we-re proving to be bottlenecks.