Mounting subsidy bill a cause of concern: Pranab
NEW DELHI FACED with subdued revenue mop-up and rising fiscal deficit, Finance Minister of India Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday said he is “losing sleep” over mounting subsidy bill, which may cross Budget estimate by Rs 1 lakh crore in 2011-12.
“As Finance Minister when I think of enormity of the subsidies to be provided, I lose my sleep. There is no doubt,” said Mukherjee, who is engaged in the process of firming the Budget for 2012-13 to be tabled in the Lok Sabha on March 16.
The government had earlier said that its subsidy bill is likely to increase by over Rs 1 lakh crore, over and above the original estimate of Rs 1.34 lakh crore, mainly on account of higher outlay towards fertiliser, food and oil.
In view of the moderate growth in revenue collection and poor receipts from disinvestment on one hand and the rising subsidy on the other, the Finance Minister will have a tough time in balancing the budget figures.
The fiscal deficit, which he had proposed to bring down from 4.7 per cent to 4.6 per cent of GDP in 2011-12, is expected to in the range of 5.6 per cent.
Latest tax figures released suggest that government has collected Rs 6.63 lakh crore up till January and will not be able to achieve the Rs 9.32 lakh crore target for the fiscal.
Meanwhile, CBDT Chairman Laxman Das has written to top Income Tax officials to take up the “challenge” of filling the deficit.
“At this critical juncture, our task as revenue administrators becomes that much more challenging.
As senior officers, we have to play a critical role in making all possible efforts to improve the situation. We have to ensure every CC/DG achieves the budget target,” Das told his Chief Commissioners and Commissioners.
The Finance Ministry said in a statement that at the present rate of growth, the Central Board of Excise and Customs, responsible for collecting indirect taxes, “should be able to achieve the target of Rs 3,92,908 crore”.
While the net direct tax collections during April-January was Rs 3.46 lakh crore, the realisation from indirect taxes was Rs 3.17 lakh crore. With less than two months left in the current fiscal, government has a formidable task to collect Rs 2.69 lakh crore.
Mukherjee had said last week that he is exerting pressure on revenue officials to improve tax realisation to meet the total tax collection target.
“I am putting pressure on my colleagues in the CBEC, CBDT and on my behalf Secretary (Revenue) is continuously breathing (down) their neck to improve revenue because our demand and requirement is much more,” he had said.
The lower economic growth of 6.9 per cent projected for 2011-12, as against the original estimate of 9 per cent, will further aggravate the fiscal deficit situation. The economy grew by 8.4 per cent in 2010-11.