India's fiscal deficit skyrocketed to 120.3 percent of the revised estimates by the end of April-February. The government budget balance numbers released by Controller General of Accounts (CGA) show that the fiscal deficit reached Rs 7.15 lakh during this period. The fiscal deficit soared due to increase in expenditure and subdued revenue receipts. For the corresponding period last year, the fiscal deficit stood at Rs 5.94 lakh crore or 113 percent of the estimated limit.
The government had to face financial hardships due to implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST). Combined with volatility in revenue and imbalanced expenditure resulted in government crossing its fiscal deficit target back in November last year. While presenting the Budget for the financial year 2018-19, government had decided to hike both fiscal and revenue deficit estimates for the current fiscal.
In the Budget 2018-19 presented on February 1, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had revised upwards the fiscal deficit target to 3.5 per cent of the GDP for 2017-18, as against the initial target of 3.2 per cent. The changes were made on account of financial hiccups due to GST implementation and delay in spectrum auction. For the financial year 2018-19, the fiscal deficit or gap between total expenditure and revenues has been pegged at 3.3 per cent.
The monthly account till February-end revealed that the government has collected revenue to the tune of Rs 12.83 lakh crore, which is 79.09 percent of revised estimates. Of this, over Rs 10.35 lakh crore is collected from taxes, while over Rs 1.42 lakh crore and Rs 1.05 lakh crore accrued on account of non-tax revenue and non-debt capital receipts, respectively.
Non-debt capital receipts consist of recovery of loans of Rs 13,301 crore. Besides, Rs 92,493 crore has been mopped up through PSU disinvestment till February-end. In the revised estimates of 2017-18, the government had raised the disinvestment target to Rs 1 lakh crore, up from Rs 72,500 crore in the Budget estimates.
In 11 months till February, over Rs 5.29 lakh crore has been transferred to state governments as devolution of share of taxes by the Centre, which is Rs 66,039 crore higher than the corresponding period of last year 2016-17.
Total expenditure incurred by the government during the period was over Rs 19.99 lakh crore, which is 90.14 per cent of revised estimates for 2017-18. Of this, Rs 17.02 lakh crore is on revenue account and Rs 2.97 lakh crore is on capital account. Of the total revenue expenditure, Rs 4.50 lakh crore is on account of interest payments.
As per CGA data, the Rs 2.27 lakh crore was spent till February on major subsidies. Subsidies on food showed the most deviation from estimated limits with 102 percent (Rs 1.42 lakh crore), whereas petroleum subsidy reached its limit (Rs 24,353 crore).
(With PTI inputs)