With the Union Budget 2023-24 underway, Finance Ministry officials are making it clear that the upcoming budget will not aim for big-ticket, radical changes and reforms. Instead, the government will continue its focus on capital expenditure to grow the economy and not bother voters in the pre-election year. As part of this, curbing price rise and ensuring affordable energy and agricultural inputs will be the main focus of the Modi government.
“The upcoming budget is not one where one can expect any high-level sea change in terms of new schemes and reforms. But, the effort of the government will be to get the fundamentals right and keep the inflationary pressure down.”
The Center is also confident that it will meet its capital expenditure target of Rs 7.5 lakh crore in the current financial year. “We will continue to focus on capital expenditure going forward. In fact, due to recent global political developments, we are expecting big-ticket investments in roads and railways in India,” the official said.
The fiscal performance in the current year will also be the basis for the government to keep the deficit under control in the next year as well.
“We are confident that the fiscal deficit for the current financial year will remain within the target of 6.4 per cent of GDP. The budget-making exercise has just begun, but I am confident that we will be able to meet our fiscal deficit target of 6.4 per cent of GDP. There will be some basic increase in the rupee amount of the deficit as compared to the budget estimate, but the ratio of fiscal deficit divided by the revised GDP will be within the target,” said a government official.
With regard to popular expectations of some tax relief for the middle class, the official pointed out that it is early days in this regard.
“We have not yet thought of tax relief. It is a difficult issue at a time of high inflation. We will try our best,” said an official.
Asked whether the government intends to extend the PM Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY), officials said doing so would not be desirable from a fiscal point of view. The current extension from September 30 to December 31 has cost the scheme an additional Rs 80,000 crore this year. Launched in March 2020, PMGKAY provides 5 kg of food grains per person per month free of cost to about 800 million beneficiaries under the National Food Scheme. Security Act.