Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee and his team of officials entered the final leg of preparation for presenting a budget for 2009-10 that is most likely to include a total expenditure of over Rs 10 lakh crore.
Mirroring the growth of the Indian economy as well as the need for high public spending to spur growth, this would be the first time that the figure is breached in budgetary outlay.
The gross budgetary support for the central budget is expected to go up by Rs 50,000 crore from the earlier estimates of Rs 285,000 crore with greater allocations likely for several of the government’s flagship social sector schemes including the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS).
In the Interim Budget 2009-10 presented in February the finance minister had proposed total expenditure for fiscal 2009-10 at Rs 9,53,231 crore. This includes a provision of Rs 2,85,149 crore under plan and Rs 6,68,082 crore under non plan allocations.
Officials, who did not wish to be identified, said the total expenditure is set to cross Rs 10 lakh crore with higher allocations expected for a raft of programmes spanning across rural development, infrastructure, health, education and other social sector schemes.
Budgetary support in 2009-10 in comparison is expected to see a marked increase fior the departments of rural development, road transport and highways, and power officials said.
Besides, the ministry of youth affairs and sports would receive a higher allocation for hosting of the Commonwealth Games.
Government’s macroeconomic managers, however, face the onerous task of reviving growth in the broader economy that is constrained by a high budget deficit and low tax buoyancy.
After growing at close to a sizzling 9 per cent four successive years, India’s GDP growth fell to 6.7 per cent in 2008-09.
Direct tax collections fell 7 per cent short of the revised estimates of Rs 3.45 lakh crore.
Excise duty collections at Rs 108,359 crore were marginally higher than revised estimates, but were 13.7 per cent lower than the previous year’s collections, reflecting the general poor health of India Inc.
All told, the actual gross tax revenue for 2008-09 stood at Rs 609,705 crore short by over Rs 18,000 crore than the revised budget estimates presenting the Mukherjee and his team with a precarious state of public finances.