Caution note for economy: Govt spend, revenues see dip

The government has been spending reduced portions of the budgetary estimates, which can be seen as a negative indicator amid slowing economic growth. File photo

The government has been spending reduced portions of the budgetary estimates, which can be seen as a negative indicator amid slowing economic growth.

According to official data, the total expenditure of the government, as part of the total budget estimates stood at 25.4%, 360 basis points lower than the year-ago period, when it had spent 29% of the budget estimates. The government, in the first quarter, has spent Rs 7,21,710 crore of its estimated Rs 27.86 lakh crore of the expenditure this year.

What is more worrying is the fact that the majority of this fall has been contributed by the visible decrease in capital expenditure. The government has spent only Rs 63,000 crore on capital expenditure, a decline of a whopping 27.6% from the year-ago period. Capex, an amount spent to acquire or significantly improve the capacity or capabilities of a long-term asset such as equipment or buildings, doesn't usually happen in the election year. Analysts are adopting a wait and watch approach towards the capex by the government. Last year, in the first quarter, the capex of the government stood at Rs 86,990 crore. 

"The major worry is that the target of revenue receipts set by the government is very aspirational. If it doesn't take place, the only possible way is by cutting capex by the government," Kavita Chacko, Senior Economist, Care Ratings said.

The government has set an estimate of Rs 20.83 lakh crore for the total revenues in the current financial year -- of which Rs 19.63 lakh crore will come from the revenue receipts. 

The government has seen a major dip in the non-debt capital receipt -- dipping by more than half to Rs 4,760 crore, from Rs 10,800 crore last year.

Capital receipts may be debt creating or non-debt creating. Non-debt capital receipts are --Recovery of loans, proceeds from the sale of public enterprises (disinvestment), among others. These do not give rise to the debt.

There has been talk of offering a stimulus package to industry. However, experts question the move, as it would impact the fiscal deficit position.

Economists are waiting for consumption numbers from the upcoming festive season as an indicator to understand whether or not the economy is reviving.

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