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The government has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of gross domestic product for the current fiscal year. Photo: Mint
The government has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of gross domestic product for the current fiscal year. Photo: Mint

India risks missing budget gap target for fiscal year, data shows

The data showed the fiscal deficit in the April-November period stood at Rs7.17 trillion, or 114.8% of the budgeted target for the fiscal year that ends in March

New Delhi: India risks missing its budget deficit target for the current fiscal year, data released on Thursday suggested, and economists said the government had already started to cut capital spending in an attempt to narrow the gap.

The data showed the fiscal deficit in the April-November period stood at Rs7.17 trillion ($101.93 billion), or 114.8% of the budgeted target for the fiscal year that ends in March.

It is the second consecutive month that the deficit has come in above 100% of the budgeted target. In the April-October period India reported a fiscal deficit of Rs6.49 trillion, or 103.9% of the budgeted full-year target.

The government has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of gross domestic product for the current fiscal year.

Net tax receipts in the April-November period were Rs7.32 trillion, against a full-year target of Rs14.81 trillion, while total spending stood at Rs16.13 trillion, against the full-year target of Rs24.42 trillion.

“There are several risks to meeting the budgeted targets for revenues and expenditures, with one of the predominant concerns arising from a possible shortfall in indirect tax collections," said Aditi Nayar, principal economist at ratings agency ICRA.

Nayar said 93% of the budget estimate for fuel subsidies had been released in the April-November period and that the government might need more funds for fuel subsidies in the coming months.

The government also reported April-November capital expenditure — for use in construction of roads, improved railways and the creation of other physical assets — of Rs1.91 trillion, which is 63.8% of the full-year target.

One economist said the government had started cutting capital spending for the year to counter the fiscal deficit slippage.

“It appears course correction has already begun and the axe has fallen on capex. Monthly average capex in October-November is 46% lower than the monthly average in the April-September period," said Devendra Pant, chief economist at India Ratings.

The government also faces the risk of missing its divestment target from the sale of state assets as it has garnered less than half of the Rs80,000 crore target set for the year.

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