The government today said both fiscal and revenue deficit for 2017-18 financial year would be lower than the revised estimates presented in the Budget.

The fiscal deficit target for the last financial year was revised upwards to 3.5 per cent of the GDP from original projection of 3.2 per cent, following GST implementation and deferment of spectrum auction.

Also, the revenue deficit was projected higher at 2.6 per cent of the GDP from previous target of 1.9 per cent in the Union Budget presented on February 1.

“With almost all of revenues and expenditure accounted for (some minor accounting adjustments remaining), I can confirm that both fiscal deficit and revenue deficit are lower than the revised estimates for 2017-18,” Economic Affairs Secretary Subhash Chandra Garg said in a tweet.

Earlier in the day, Finance Secretary Hasmukh Adhia told reporters that the Finance Ministry was confident of meeting the 3.5 per cent fiscal deficit target with revenue collections from direct as well as indirect taxes broadly on target and on “natural savings” by ministries.

He said the government has collected Rs 9.95 lakh crore from direct taxes, crossing the Budget estimate of Rs 9.80 lakh crore for the last fiscal ended March 31. However, the collection is short of the Rs 10.05 lakh crore revised estimates.

With regard to revenues from the Goods and Services Tax, the mop up is 98 per cent of the Rs 4.44 lakh crore target set in the revised budgetary estimates.

“On the whole, this year has been very good inspite of the fact that it was a year of uncertainty for revenue because of GST introduction. But still both in direct and indirect taxes revenues, we have broadly met our target and we are very much on course to achieve our fiscal deficit target,” Adhia said.

Noting that he was “absolutely confident” of meeting the fiscal deficit target for 2017-18, he said that even the tax figures would go up. “So in next 3-4 days we will get more additions to revenues which we have so far up to March 31,” he added.

On whether there would be any spending cut to meet the 3.5 per cent fiscal deficit target, Adhia said, “No. Not any major cut”.

According to him, there might be “less expenditure” as some departments might not have spent the entire amount allocated to them for the entire fiscal.

“If a department, inspite of giving them the money is unable to spend, then it becomes a natural savings. That kind of natural savings may be there, but not otherwise,” Adhia said.

Official data on fiscal deficit for 2017-18 would be released later this month.

Last week, the government reported a fiscal deficit of Rs 7.16 lakh crore or 120.3 per cent of the revised target for April 2017 to February 2018 period.

Till February, the government’s revenue receipt stood at Rs 12.83 lakh crore or 79.09 per cent of revised budgetary estimates. 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.

For 2018-19, the fiscal deficit or gap between total expenditure and revenues has been pegged at 3.3 per cent.

The government’s statement about public finances come days before the Reserve Bank of India would be announcing its first bi-monthly monetary policy for 2018-19 on April 5.

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CA Bharat Poplani


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