Finance Ministry has asked government departments to refrain from excessive expenditure in the fourth quarter and remain within the budget allocation made for the fiscal, though it made an exception in case of MGNREGA spending.
This was conveyed to the officials of other ministries during the discussion on revised estimates for current year and budget proposals for next financial year.
“For most of the ministries the Revised Estimates should be within the Budget Estimates… The spending curbs in the fourth quarter and for the month of March will remain this fiscal as well,” an official told PTI.
To avoid rush of expenditure in the last quarter of the fiscal, the Finance Ministry has asked other departments to restrict expenditure to 33 per cent and 15 per cent of the total ceiling in the last quarter of the current financial year and during the month of March, respectively.
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The fiscal deficit — the gap between government expenditure and revenue — has already touched 85.8 per cent of Budget estimates in the April-November period.
Fiscal deficit, the gap between expenditure and revenue for the entire fiscal, has been pegged at Rs 5.33 lakh crore, or 3.5 per cent of GDP, in 2016-17.
The official said that no ministry would get additional grant as the exchequer has to bear the additional burden on account of implementation of the seventh Pay Commission award.
“Whatever savings will happen in certain ministries, will percolate down to other ministries. MGRNEGA there may be some increase in Revised Estimate,” the official added.
In order to improve the quality of public expenditure, the Finance Ministry has decided to ask financial advisors of all ministries and departments to strictly adhere to monthly and quarterly expenditure plans from next fiscal year.
It is also proposing to make it mandatory for central ministries to refund the Budget grants which cannot be “profitably utilised” and such funds should be returned to the exchequer without waiting for the financial year to end.
This will help avoid rush of expenditure, particularly in the closing months of the financial year.