Mumbai: With the country's largest tax collection region failing to achieve the targeted growth so far, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has asked taxmen in the city to pull up their socks.

The Finance Minister, who is struggling with the problem of widening fiscal deficit due to a dip in revenue and burgeoning expenditure, "exhorted the tax officers to put their best foot forward to achieve the budget collection target fixed for the Mumbai region," an Income Tax department statement said on Tuesday.

Mukherjee had met tax officials in the city over the weekend.

The Mumbai region, which contributes over a third of the overall direct tax mop-up, has been targeting a 33 percent increase in income tax collections at Rs 2.04 lakh crore for the fiscal but has achieved a meagre 4 percent jump in advance tax collections, which contribute the most to the I-T kitty.

The minister was also informed of the higher refunds this fiscal, it said.

At the meeting, Revenue Secretary RS Gujral gave some solace to the tax officials saying the present times are "very critical" as a "steep decline" in GDP growth is resulting in dip in the levy collections.

Gujral said companies in the banking, finance and insurance sector, which account for half of the collections in the Mumbai region are facing difficult time and the Mumbai region will have to depend on sectors like software, pharma, FMCG and infrastructure which are showing healthy increases to achieve the target.

As an alternative, Mukherjee asked the I-T authorities to explore other possibilities like recovery in cases of tax defaulters and suggested to adopt some realistic steps to achieve targets in a time-bound manner.

The gloomy economic situation with expenditure outdoing receipts has resulted in concerns over widening fiscal deficit and has also forced the government to increase its borrowing by Rs 93,000 crore over and above Rs 4.17 lakh crore the budgeted initially.

(Agencies)