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Surprise! FM pegs FY17 fiscal deficit at 3.5%

Amid debate over balancing growth and financial management, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday adhered to the fiscal consolidation roadmap by proposing to keep the deficit at 3.5 per cent of GDP in 2016-17.

He also assured that development agenda will not be compromised and a committee would be set up to review the working of Fiscal Resposibility and Budget Management (FRBM). The fiscal deficit in current fiscal has been estimated at 3.9 per cent, which will be brought down to 3.5 per cent in next fiscal.

"While doing this I have ensured that development agenda has not been compromised," Jaitley said in the next fiscal's Budget speech. Total government expenditure in next fiscal would be Rs 19.78 lakh crore. Of this, Rs 5.50 lakh crore would go towards Plan expenditure and another Rs 14.28 lakh crore towards non-Plan expenditure. The revenue Deficit for current fiscal has been bettered to 2.5 per cent of GDP, from the budgeted 2.8 per cent. Jaitley further said that in view of the uncertainty and volatility in global markets, time has come to review the FRBM Act.

A committee to review the implementation of FRBM would be set up, he said, adding that the government will also work with the state governments towards doing away with the distinction between plan and non-plan expenditure. Last year Jaitley had delayed the fiscal consolidation roadmap in order to build infrastructure by boosting public investment.

As per the deficit roadmap announced by Jaitley in last budget, fiscal deficit was to be brought down to 3.9 per cent in current fiscal and further to 3.5 per cent by 2016-17. The deficit was to be lowered to 3 per cent by 2017-18. As per the earlier roadmap for fiscal consolidation, the deficit was to come down to 3 per cent by 2016-17.  
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