The government is committed to meeting the fiscal deficit target of 3.3 per cent for the current fiscal despite it being an election year, Finance Minister Piyush Goyal said today. He also said that there will not be a spending cut to meet the target as the government has enough alternative resources for planned expenditure.
Fiscal deficit stood at 3.53 per cent of the GDP, broadly in line with the government’s revised estimates for 2017-18. “Fiscal digit this year will be down to 3.3 per cent and I can assure you that we are monitoring and working to ensure that fiscal deficit will be contained at 3.3 per cent despite this being an election year, despite this being a year traditionally, and I will urge you to look at history be it 2013-14, be it 2007-08 or 2008-09, where fiscal deficits, microeconomic stability, good governance — all were thrown to the wind for political exigencies,” Goyal said.
In the Union Budget 2018-19 presented in February, the government had revised the fiscal deficit target for 2017-18 to 3.5 per cent from the earlier estimate of 3.2 per cent. In absolute terms, the fiscal deficit was Rs 5.91 lakh crore, or 99.5 per cent, of the Budget estimates.
Addressing an event organised by industry body CII, Goyal said, the government will maintain stability in the economy and meet all economic parameters. “You have a government today which is willing to say we will meet the aspirations of the people of India. We will meet our objectives of good governance. We will meet our objective for society to reach benefits of growth to poorest of the poor but we will also strengthen the Indian economy,” he said.
Asked if the rise in oil prices will have impact on the fiscal deficit, Goyal said this government has been very responsible, both in the management in the economy and management of prices.
“We have factored in what would be the increased oil price. Some of it were factored before the budget. Some of it we have now. And with alternate sources… without cut in expenditure, we will be able to meet the fiscal deficit,” he said.
On including petroleum products under Goods and Services Tax (GST), he said that’s really a decision that GST council has to take because at end of the day the government is not alone on that.
He said: “We have maintained the dignity of the GST council to have unanimous decisions and the good part is that the federal structure, even though it has different political ideologies in different states, they have all worked together to ensure the success of GST and maybe in the next meeting there could be a discussion on this.
“I believe in the past they had discussed this issue since the consensus didn’t come through it hasn’t yet come under the GST”.
On Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT), he said that 481 centrally sponsored schemes have come under this scheme, and Rs 3.65 lakh crore has been directly transferred to bank accounts of beneficiaries.