In a year in which tax collections are expected to post only modest growth, finance minister Pranab Mukherjee will have less leeway to protect spending under key heads while trying to reduce the fiscal deficit in Budget 2010.
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The fine art of fiscal balance may have actually reached its limits after the deficit touched 6.8% of economic output in the budget for the year ending March.
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The big question, before Mukherjee unveils the Budget on 26 February, is whether the government will exhibit the political will to take tough decisions to curb spending and, at the same time, ensure better value for every rupee spent on development programmes.
Graphics by Ahmed Raza Khan/Mint