Union Budget 2023-24: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will be presenting her fifth Budget that may do a tightrope walk between staying fiscally prudent and meeting general public expectations of lower taxes and a wider social security net, while at the same time firing the engines of the economy. Sitharaman had in her first Budget in 2019 replaced leather briefcase — which had been in used for decades for carrying Budget documents — with a traditional ‘bahi-khata’ wrapped in red cloth.
Budget 2023-24 would be in paperless form, as done in the last two years, and would be available on the ‘Union Budget Mobile App’ for hassle-free access by Members of Parliament (MPs) and the general public. Here are the key numbers to watch for in Budget 2023-24, which is widely expected to boost spending towards policies that create jobs, leave more money in hands of the common man and boost manufacturing, while increasing tax revenues.
- Fiscal Deficit: The budgeted fiscal deficit, which is the difference between the government expenditure and income, for the current fiscal ending March 2023 is 6.4 per cent, against 6.71 per cent in the last fiscal. The number for 2023-24 would be in focus as it is widely expected that the government would open its purse strings in an election year.
- Disinvestment/Privatisation: In current fiscal year the budgeted disinvestment target is likely to be missed, like the past four years. It is expected the government would set a realistic target for next fiscal.
- Capital Expenditure: The government’s planned capital expenditure for this fiscal year is budgeted at Rs 7.5 lakh crore, higher than Rs 5.5 lakh crore in the last fiscal. The government has been pushing infrastructure creation and also incentivising states to step up capex.
- Tax Revenue: The Budget had pegged direct and indirect tax mop-up at Rs 14.20 lakh crore and Rs 13.30 lakh crore for current fiscal, taking the total figure to Rs 27.50 lakh crore. The government’s tax revenues are expected to overshoot the budget estimates by about Rs 4 lakh crore on buoyant income tax and customs duty.
- Borrowing: The government’s gross borrowing budget was at Rs 14.31 lakh crore in current financial year ending March 31. The government borrows from the market to fund its fiscal deficit and with tax revenues seeing an uptick, the government has cut its gross borrowings by Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 14.21 lakh crore. The borrowing number would be watched by the market, especially on the back of expected higher capital expenditures to boost growth.
- Nominal GDP: India’s nominal GDP growth (real GDP plus inflation) in the current fiscal is estimated to be 15.4 per cent. The numbers for next fiscal would be lower as the inflation has come down. The Budget is expected to give an outline on the nominal GDP growth numbers. Real GDP growth in current fiscal is projected at 7 per cent and come down to 6-6.5 per cent in the next.
- Spotlight would also be on spending on key schemes, like NREGA, as well as key sectors like health and education.