P. Chidambaram can easily meet 4.6% deficit target: Economists

Written by PTI | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 2 2014, 17:43pm hrs
PP. Chidambaram
Higher revenue inflows towards the end of 2013-14 will help the government meet the revised fiscal deficit target of 4.6 per cent despite its having overshot the full-year borrowing target two months before the end of the fiscal, say economists.

Fiscal deficit crossed the full-year target at the end of January by 1.6 per cent and stood at Rs 5.32 lakh crore or 101.6 per cent of the estimate of Rs 5.24 lakh crore, which is 4.6 per cent of GDP.

Finance Minister P Chidambaram's Interim Budget revised down the fiscal deficit target at 4.6 per cent below the redline of 4.8 per cent or Rs 5.42 lakh crore for the fiscal.

Economists believe that inflows from advance tax, 2G spectrum auction fees, dividend and proceeds from disinvestment would help.

"Revenue inflows coming from the spectrum auctions, divestment, dividends and advance tax payment will help in meeting the 4.6-per cent deficit target," said Axis Bank chief economist Saugata Bhattacharya.

Care Rating chief economist Madan Sabnavis also said: "There are lot of revenues which have not come in. March 15 is the date of fourth quarter advance tax payment. Also, of the spectrum revenue, one-third will come in by March-end."

Corporates will make the last payout of advance tax for this fiscal by March 15, which, because of the last quarter, is the biggest chunk normally.

In the recently concluded spectrum auction in which eight telcos participated, the government received Rs 61,162 crore. Of it, a minimum of Rs 18,296.36 crore will come to the government in the current financial year, ending March 31.

As per the Interim Budget, public sector enterprises, including banks, are expected to contribute Rs 88,188 crore in the form of dividend and profit to the government this fiscal.

In January, Coal India was asked to declare an interim dividend of Rs 29 per share amounting to Rs 18,317 crore, or a record 290 per cent, for 2013-14. Also, Three CIL arms would chip in with close to Rs 3,000 crore in special dividends.

According to rating agency Crisil, by March-end the pre-dividend corpus of the top 20 PSUs, by cash holding, is expected to be around Rs 1.6 lakh crore. These companies can distribute 40 per cent of the corpus (Rs 64,000 crore) as dividend without impacting growth plans.

It also believes that these companies are comfortably placed to pay special dividends of Rs 27,000 crore over and above their normal dividend, without impacting capex plans.

Besides, the government has also asked the public sector lenders to pay extra dividends, to narrow the deficit.

According to Standard Chartered India economist Anubhuti Sahay: "Big chunky receipts will help achieve the deficit target, but the government has to keep a tab on expenditure."

In the Interim Budget, the finance minister announced Rs 79,790 crore cut in plan expenditure, out of Rs 5,55,532 crore for the current financial year.

"On one side, we have gains in revenue and on other side there is a cut in expenditure. This will help in achieving the 4.6 per cent target," said Sabnavis of Care Ratings.

Though the divestment has been a big flop, the special dividends will offset the mismatch. So far this fiscal the government could mop up only a fraction of its Rs 44,000 crore sell-off target at Rs 5,093.87 crore.

As per the revised budget estimates, the divestment target has been lowered to Rs 16,027 crore this fiscal, including the just cleared stake sale in OIC and Behl to other PSUs -- ONGC and Oil India and LIC, respectively through off-market block deals, which will fetch more than Rs 7,300 crore later this month.