Fiscal Deficit (Union government)

Centre's Fiscal consolidation continues despite lower revenue collections.

Published monthly by Controller General of Accounts (CGA), Ministry of Finance, GoI. Updated to the month of September 2018. (Published on October 25, 2018)

Recent Data Trend

During Apr-Sep'18, the central government's gross fiscal deficit stood at Rs.5.95 trillion (95.27% of budgeted estimate (BE) for FY19) more than Rs. 4.9 trillion (91.29% of BE of FY18) in Sep'17. The reason for higher fiscal deficit during this period can be pointed to the frontloading of government expenditure. The revenues (from tax and non-tax sources) are generally realized during the second half of the fiscal, which is why we can see this impact on the fiscal deficit.

The total expenditure in Q2FY19 has been in line with the previous year, reaching Rs.13 trillion equivalent to 53.4% of BE. There has been an increase in the pace of government expenditure in terms of capital expenditure spending 54% of the budgeted amount. This indicates a good sign in terms of meeting the infrastructure development commitments of the government, given that by next year, if promises are met the current government can come back to power.

The Centre's revenue receipts stood at Rs.6.91 trillion during Apr-Sep'18, reaching 40.1% of the budgeted target (Rs.17.25 trillion). In September, there was moderate growth in tax revenue collections, with improved direct tax collection counteracted by lower indirect tax growth reaching 39.4% of the BE. However, tax receipts have remained less than 40% of BE since the beginning of the year. Non-tax revenue (includes interest payments, dividends and profits) touched 44.5% of BE reaching Rs.10.8 trillion by end Sep'18, better than 28% in the corresponding month of last year.

With government exhausting 95.2% of its fiscal space in the second quarter of this fiscal year, it will be tough for the government to meet its fiscal deficit target of 3.3% of GDP for 2018-19. The likelihood of them meeting budgeted revenue target is something one needs to consider given the fact that rising oil prices have been putting pressure on India's import bill. As the government has also cut the excise duty on fuels prices, the upside risks to fiscal slippage remain.

Brief Overview

The central government accounts are divided mainly into two parts- Revenue Account and Capital Account. The revenue account consists of revenue receipts and revenue expenditure. Revenue receipts are accumulated from tax revenues (both via direct and indirect taxes) and non-tax revenues (interest payments dividend & profits etc.), while the revenue expenditure is broadly the expenditure which doesn't result in the creation of assets (administrative expenses of government, interest charges on debt incurred, subsidies etc.)

Similarly, the capital account consists of capital payments and capital expenditure. The capital receipts mainly include recoveries of loans & advances and earnings from disinvestment while the capital expenditure is the expenditure on acquisition of buildings, lands, and investments in bonds, shares etc.

The excess of expenditure over receipts (on both accounts) gives the fiscal health measure of the government known as the gross fiscal deficit (GFD). Another important gauge of fiscal operations is the revenue deficit (excess of expenditures over receipts in the revenue account). The increase in revenue deficit generally implies that the government is increasingly using its finances to fund its recurring non-productive expenses and no actual asset creation is taking place. To discipline the government in its financial management, the Fiscal responsibility, and Budget Management (FRBM) Act was brought in during the UPA regime in 2003. This act aimed at bringing fiscal discipline by reducing India's fiscal deficit (5.7% of GDP in 2003) to 3% of GDP and elimination of revenue deficit by March 2008. (Revenue deficit stood at 2% of GDP or fiscal year 2016-17)

Government Accounts- Annual

Note: The years represent the fiscal years so 2017 denotes FY 2017 (April 2016-March 2017). The share of GDP for deficits has been calculated using GDP (2004-05=100). The values for 2018 represent the budget estimates for the fiscal year April 2017- March 2018. 


   Revenue Receipts The earnings made by the government which neither create liabilities or reduce assets of the government. For example, receipts from tax collections, interest on investments, dividend earnings and earnings from services provided.
   Capital Receipts The earnings made by the government which creates liabilities (borrowing from the public in form of PPF and small saving deposits, National Pension Scheme etc. ) or reduce assets (divesting stake in a particular company, called disinvestment or recovering loans made to state governments.)
   Non-debt Capital Receipts These are capital receipts which do not create debt for the government such as recovery of loans made and selling a stake in a public company.
   Revenue expenditure It is the expenditure made by the government on a recurring basis such as administrative expenses, interest payments on loan taken by the government, pensions, subsidies etc.
   Capital expenditure It is a productive, asset-creating (or liability reducing) long-period, non-recurring expenditure of the government. For example; expenditure on creating the infrastructure (roads, electricity dams etc.), loans made to state governments and repayment of loans by the central government (reducing liability).
   Gross Fiscal Deficit The fiscal deficit of the government is the difference between the total expenditure incurred and the total non-debt capital receipts (total receipts minus the earnings from borrowing) of the government. It indicates the total borrowing requirements (incl. the need for interest payments) of the government.
   Revenue Deficit It is the difference between the revenue receipts and the revenue expenditure of the central government. Revenue deficit indicates the excess amount of expenditure by the government to fund current consumption needs rather than for productive asset-creation.
   Gross Primary Deficit It is the difference between the fiscal deficit of the current year and the interest payments on the previous borrowings made by the government. It indicates how much of the government borrowing is going to meet expenses other than interest payments.


For more information please visit the official government website.

Next Release Date: September 28, 2018