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Indian Economy

Increased Fiscal Deficit

  • 01 Feb 2021
  • 5 min read

Why in News

The government’s fiscal deficit has increased to Rs. 11.58 lakh crore or 145.5% of the Budget Estimate (BE) at the end of December 2020 (accounting for the first nine months of the year 2020-21) mainly on account of lower revenue realisation.

Key Points

  • Fiscal Deficit Target Fixed for 2020-21: The Centre had pegged the fiscal deficit at Rs. 7.96 lakh crore or 3.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
  • Fiscal Deficit in 2019-2020: According to the data released by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), the fiscal deficit at the end of December in the previous fiscal year was 132.4% of the BE of 2019-20.
  • Reasons for High Fiscal Deficit:
    • Lower Revenue Realisation:
    • Higher Expenditure:
      • There has been a notable increase in revenue expenditure in food and public distribution and rural development which could be attributed to the government’s pandemic relief programs.

Fiscal Deficit

  • The government describes fiscal deficit of India as “the excess of total disbursements from the Consolidated Fund of India, excluding repayment of the debt, over total receipts into the Fund (excluding the debt receipts) during a financial year”.
  • In simple words, it is a shortfall in a government's income compared with its spending.
    • The government that has a fiscal deficit is spending beyond its means.
  • It is calculated as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or simply as total money spent in excess of income.
    • In either case, the income figure includes only taxes and other revenues and excludes money borrowed to make up the shortfall.
  • Formula:
    • Fiscal Deficit = Total expenditure of the government (capital and revenue expenditure) – Total income of the government (Revenue receipts + recovery of loans + other receipts).
      • Expenditure component: The government in its Budget allocates funds for several works, including payments of salaries, pensions, etc. (revenue expenditure) and creation of assets such as infrastructure, development, etc. (capital expenditure).
      • Income component: The income component is made of two variables, revenue generated from taxes levied by the Centre and the income generated from non-tax variables.
        • The taxable income consists of the amount generated from corporation tax, income tax, Customs duties, excise duties, GST, among others.
        • Meanwhile, the non-taxable income comes from external grants, interest receipts, dividends and profits, receipts from Union Territories, among others.
    • It is different from revenue deficit which is only related to revenue expenditure and revenue receipts of the government.
    • The government meets the fiscal deficit by borrowing money. In a way, the total borrowing requirements of the government in a financial year is equal to the fiscal deficit in that year.
    • A high fiscal deficit can also be good for the economy if the money spent goes into the creation of productive assets like highways, roads, ports and airports that boost economic growth and result in job creation.
    • The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 provides that the Centre should take appropriate measures to limit the fiscal deficit upto 3% of the GDP by 31st March, 2021.
    • The NK Singh committee (set up in 2016) recommended that the government should target a fiscal deficit of 3% of the GDP in years up to 31st March, 2020, cut it to 2.8% in 2020-21 and to 2.5% by 2023.

Controller General of Accounts

  • It comes under the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance.
  • It is the Principal Accounting Adviser to the Government of India and is responsible for establishing and maintaining a technically sound Management Accounting System.
  • The Office of CGA prepares monthly and annual analysis of expenditure, revenues, borrowings and various fiscal indicators for the Union Government.

Source: TH

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