Government officials, however, said that they are unlikely to raise the target for the current year. Having completed a large part of the pre-Budget consultations, the Centre is confident of meeting the fiscal deficit target for the current financial year with revenues looking comfortable, including excise, where an immediate cut for fuel is not on the horizon.
Government sources indicated that key spending heads such as food subsidy are within manageable limits, while an assessment on fertiliser is yet to be done. While there has been a demand for higher allocation for the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), an official said that the government’s commitment on meeting the entire requirement would be achieved. At the same time, they insisted that the job guarantee programme needed to be looked at as a social security scheme and not as one that is meant to generate income.
The government is seeking to plug possible leakages that have come to light, largely frauds, and at the same time is studying if the amount allocated in the Budget turns into some sort of a target for creating employment under MGNREGS, an issue that the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) had flagged a few years ago.
While a full assessment of government expenditure will be completed around the middle of next month, on the revenue side too, the Centre does not see too many surprises – at least so far – and is in line to meet the annual target, including on corporation tax, which was seen to be slowing down a little.