FM pitches India story with promise of action
He was confident of not breaching the country's fiscal deficit to his target of 5.3% of GDP this year “under any circumstance”. The idea is to improve tax collection and expand the tax base to progressively cut fiscal deficit by 0.6% until it falls to 3% in four years.
He is also hopeful of restricting fiscal deficit to 4.8% of GDP next fiscal. India is curtailing spending in the short term but hopes to stick to fiscal consolidation path by increasing revenue by simplifying tax procedure, not by raising tax rates. The recent rail fare raise itself may add $1 billion revenues.
Chidambaram said he would like interest rates to moderate, an apparent appeal to the RBI which is preparing for a monetary policy review on January 29. For the central bank, wholesale price inflation at 7.18% in December is still a concern. The finance minister said the final call on borrowing costs rests with the RBI.
The minister said there is no reason for a credit ratings downgrade. Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings had last year warned of stripping the country of its investment-grade credit rating on risks including fiscal and trade deficits.
The minister said the country has taken small but significant steps in the recent past. “Add all these together, and we will see we have traveled quite a distance. There’s no case at all to downgrade India,” he said. The minister explained to the investor community about last week's freeing of diesel
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