Role of any government in the economy is an essential one where it takes decision on receipts and expenditure. Total expenditure and total receipt are the two important features of budget yearly presented by government. Fiscal deficit actually refers to the excess of the spending over the revenues. It is calculated as a percentage of the GDP.
Gross fiscal deficit or GFD is basically the excess of the total expenditure which includes the loans, net of recovery, over receipts of revenue (which includes external grants) and receipts of non-debt capital. Net fiscal deficit is the GFD minus net lending.
Whenever fiscal balance is in positive then it is considered to be beneficial as revenue is above expenditure. Whereas, negative fiscal balance in fact means borrowings on which an economy depends on and is seldom bad.
Targets for fiscal deficit are set annually that India fails to follow . We will see through this paper why is fiscal deficit happening , what impact it has on economy, how demonetisation and GST has impacted it and also how to use it to tackle the economic problems.
Why Is Fiscal Deficithappening?
Tax evasions by various organisations along with various other factors, leads to a loss in revenue for government that leads to fiscal deficit.
The Union budget, for 2019-20, estimated fiscal deficit to be 3.3% of GDP or Rs 7.03 lakh crores. The overly-optimistic revenue estimations for 2019-20, was further worsened by the reduction in corporate income taxes (CIT), for which there were no expenditure or revenue offsetting steps been taken. This could result in the government breaching, by about 50 basis points, its fiscal deficit goal. Cutting CIT to the extent of Rs. 1.45 trillion, was mainly done to lift the weakening economy.The fiscal impact would be felt much sooner than the decision’s growth impact.
The government ended August 2019, with a Rs 4.36 lakh crores revenue deficit. As of mid-November, the Center mopped up just 6 lakh crores in direct taxes, that is about 50% less of the current direct tax revenue goal of 13.35 lakh crores. This will lead to an increase in fiscal deficit.
Comptroller and Auditor General or CAG stated that government’s key deficit numbers might be substantially higher than mentioned in the budget. CAG has therefore, asked whether or not extra-budgetary resources taken into account in budget reflect the true picture. The CAG re-calculated, 2017-18 fiscal deficit to reveal that it is 5.85% actually. Government reported a 3.46% fiscal deficit that year. The fiscal numbers of the government over past few years are under heavy scrutiny as growth has been sluggish since year 2016’s third quarter.
Impact Of Fiscal Deficit On Economy
Fiscal deficit is similar to a vicious cycle. Fiscal deficit has dire consequences on the economy as the government borrowings is in fact one of the last resorts left with the government and that results in higher interest rates in the market.
Higher interest rates are resulted because markets are doubtful about repayment by the government; due to which the government bears high interest rates, for this perceived risk that later puts the government into further debt, hence being a vicious pattern. Higher the rates, lower is the scope of private investment that decreases resources that are available for the private sector investment. High government borrowings can have various potential hazards that are mentioned below.
The Crowding Out Effect
The government to cover up for its deficit borrow more from the private sector in form of bonds. By selling the bonds it takes money from the private sector. When the private lenders lend money to the government, they actually lend it out, of their savings/ profits. The savings of the private sector gets reduced which lessens itsability to invest which ultimately crowds out the private investment, out of the market.
Therefore, government spending increases and the private spending reduces. Since the government spending’s are considered less effective than private spending this is bad for the economy. The government during a fiscal deficit in fact does two things: increases borrowings or increases tax revenue.
INCREASES TAX REVENUE- Whenever the government increases tax, it does it by actually increasing corporate taxes, income taxes etc. which results in a reduction in disposable income of the firms, so this increase in the government spending does not really result in increase in the aggregate demand(AD).
The increase in the government spending becomes offset by the decrease in the AD that is due to decrease in the disposable income. When the private sector has lesser money, it even spends lesser in the private projects.
When the government sticks to not borrowing of money but actually ‘monetisation’, inflation occurs, which increases the money supply in the market. Therefore, aggregate demand too increases causing inflation. Fiscal deficit can also imply an increment in the government spending’s which then increases AD that results in higher price levels of services and goods.
Whenever the debt to GDP ratio amplifies, the government requires to increase the tax revenue which it does by increasing its tax rates.
Impact of demonetisation and goods and service tax(GST) on fiscal deficit
Demonetization changed our currency system providing the people an incentive to use and spend money in a much productive way than letting cash lying around. Cash lying around was deposited in the banks and eventually people started trusting digital payments. Banks also experienced a surge in liquidity. Banks then deposited this sum, through different windows such as SLR, to RBI. This resulted in an increase in the government treasury. The raids for the black money also led to an increase in revenue. This resulted in an increase in income taxpayers. Income taxpayers grew by 9.1 million. There had been an 80% rise, above the average annual increase, in taxpayers. The rise was also reflected in the filing of IT returns and the payment of advance tax. While in the evaluation year 2016-17 the figure of taxpayers increased, in the next year the rate of growth fell to acquainted levels.
But demonetization affected India’s MSMEs badly. Micro-industry owners weren’t ready to cope with the lasting effects of demonetization. Therefore, a lot of micro-industry workers lost their jobs and also went back to their villages. These companies therefore had a low growth rate of 1%.
The primary goal demonetisation was tackling black money, at which it failed. Since the system has recovered 99.3% of the demonetized notes, it indicates that the activity didn’t bring enough “black money”. This could be because just a tiny portion of tax evasion takes place in cash.
It resulted in job cuts which led to higher unemployment rates. Job losses led to lower productivity and the decrease in liquidity disrupted India’s cash-based economic structure, which devastated unorganized sector. Though, demonetisation led to higher tax revenue, the cumulative losses arising from the move left a scar on economy, which had an impact on GDP and fiscal deficit. Since demonetisation the GDP, has decreased to 5% (July-September 2019) from 8.8% (July-September 2016). In FY20, fiscal deficit breached Rs 7lakh crores mark.
By removing the cascading effect of multiple central and state taxes, GST has worked to increase profit and reduce costs of doing business. This could attract investment which would lead to an increase in GDP. The increase in GDP would result in an increase in revenue for the government since taxes will increase. The GST is a type of tax that is consumption based and not anymore production based.
During the first 6 months, of the GST implementation, indirect taxpayers increased by 50%, partially due to several small businesses actively opting to be a part of the GST in attempt utilise input tax credits. Even with a wider base, however, GST revenues were underwhelming. Indirect tax collections of the Center in the post-GST era, rose by just 1.8% from the year earlier in April-September 2018, far slower than the growth of 5.6% seen in the full year of 2017-18 and even smaller than the growth of over 20 percent in the previous two years. This is primarily because of decrease in economic activity, sluggish demand and compliance issues.
Therefore, flawed GST implementation, coupled with demonetisation, served as the catalyst in India’s growth slowdown, which opened doors to fresh economic problems and affected the fiscal deficit.
Measures To Control Fiscal Deficit
There are two methods of restraining fiscal deficit. First, if the government decreases its expenditure, second, if it increases its revenue. There are again ways to achieve on both the ends.
SALE OR CLOSURE OF SICK UNITS
India is a centre for the public sector undertakings(PSUs). Several of these PSUs are not making profits and demand more than giving. So, selling or closing the non-viable, sick industry would decrease the government spending on them.
REDUCE SUBSIDY PAYMENTS
REDUCE INTEREST PAYMENT
India’s government is paying a lot of interest in previous years loans. Approximately one-fourth of the Indian spending of the budget went to interest payments. Therefore, government borrowings need to be reduced in order to decrease interest payments resulting in lower expenditure.
Increase In Revenue
PREVENT EVASION AND INCREASE TAX REVENUE
Government needs to take measures to stop tax evasion and streamline the process of tax so that taxpayer base of the country widens which will lead to higher taxation. Agriculture could be included in the tax net, because distinguishing jobs cannot be the criterion for not paying tax, but rather it should be centered on high and low income. In fact, people for evading taxes disguise their non-agricultural income as agricultural income.
Disinvestment is PSUs offers the government funding to cover the fiscal deficit and also has long-term advantages, as this money can be spent or invested in productiveuses that would generate jobs, increasing revenue and taxpayers. The government has targeted mobilising 1.05 lakh crores by the means of disinvestment.
Business promotion will help the economy to flourish. If the economy grows, the government tax revenue increases. It includes setting up a framework conducive to businesses and environmental improvement.
India’s fiscal deficit, for many years, has been a concern. Although, fiscal deficit affects the economy in many ways like by increasing inflation, increasing interest rates, crowding out private investment, etc., it can be helpful when borrowings are done for productive uses, which can amplify government revenue. It can also be controlled by several measures when it is harmful for the country. The government, in recent years, has taken several reforms like introducing GST and demonetisation, the effects of these can be observed on the fiscal deficit.
A fiscal stimulus dose is needed to revive the growth rate of the economy. The stimulus size will be calculated by the constraints on debt servicing, borrowing capacity and Indian sovereign rating concerns. A downgrade will raise borrowing costs not only for government, but also for private sector; this could cause a freeze in the portfolio funds which track indices passively and has been flowing into India. In addition, such a freeze can strain the exchange rate of the rupee, which could drop abruptly. The possibility of a sudden cessation or reversal of foreign flows is serious, and our fiscal managers cannot neglect it. That is the price you pay for being not able to pay, in your own currency, for imports. It is undeniable that foreign inflows are required, at least in order to pay for capital goods and imported oil.
As India’s fiscal space is at a risk, it can also be assisted with easier monetary policy. Monetary policy must maintain a loosening or easing bias, given the economy’s cyclical weakness, at least till the predicted recovery takes hold.
To be effective or successful in fiscal policy, it must be counter-cyclical, so a larger deficit in a year like a recession is all right. Every valuable additional fiscal rupee must result in a boost in consumption and growth immediately. The tax on capital gains ought not be abandoned, as stock market being at a high, as these are progressive direct taxes. Because Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, five of the world’s most successful entities, in India have a huge customer base, a digital tax should be imposed. The GST rate must be rationalized. This could give the fiscal buck, a greater turnout than a reduction in the individual income tax, which is borne only by about 3% of the population. This should be followed by a base expansion. The compensation formula provided to states for their failures in GST collections could be revised, as they too should bear some of the fiscal pain.
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