Fiscal austerity increases growth risks
While we were anticipating that the fiscal consolidation will come from expenditure curtailment rather than revenue increase, the Budget seems to have taken the opposite stance. Expenditure growth of 16.4% for FY14 is higher than the last 5 year’s average of 15.1%, and in the process the finance minister has been able to increase the allocation for almost all the ministries substantially. It is noteworthy that the capital expenditure growth has been budgeted at 36.6%, indicating a better composition of fiscal spending. However, a better message could have been sent on fiscal consolidation if expenditure growth was kept under check even in a pre-election year.
Obviously, the FM had to make some heroic assumptions on the revenue side to meet the high expenditure growth. Without investment growth, it will be difficult to meet the direct (18.2%) and indirect tax (20.1%) growth targets for FY14. In fact, with flat industrial growth, budgeting 17% growth in corporate tax collection is optimistic. The additional surcharge on large companies is going to garner some additional revenue, but it is likely to sour the
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