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Restricting fiscal deficit to 5.3 per cent 'doable': Chidambaram

Restricting fiscal deficit to 5.3 per cent 'doable': Chidambaram

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New Delhi:

Finance Minister P. Chidambaram today said that restricting the fiscal deficit to 5.3 per cent of GDP in the current fiscal is "doable".

"...in my considered view it is doable," he said during Question Hour in Rajya Sabha.

The Finance Minister said despite the temporary deviation from stringent fiscal consolidation targets necessitated by global financial crisis, the fiscal policy is being steered rapidly back to the path of prudence.

The government had originally targeted to bring fiscal deficit to 5.1 per cent in the current financial year, but revised it to 5.3 per cent. It was 5.9 per cent in 2011-12.

Referring to recently unveiled fiscal roadmap, Chidambaram also said he was optimistic that "we can achieve this".

As per the recent fiscal consolidation roadmap, the government plans to bring down the fiscal deficit to 4.8 per cent in the next fiscal, 4.2 per cent in 2014-15, 3.6 per cent in 2015-16 and to three per cent in 2016-17.

The government has taken various steps towards expenditure reforms with a view to improving macroeconomic environment, he said.

It endeavours to restrict central subsidies bill in 2012-13, Chidambaram said, but added that some subsidy needs to be given towards food, fuel and fertiliser.

"...some subsidy has to be given for food, fuel and fertiliser...," he said, adding the level of subsidy is determined by the economic situation.

The outgo on food, fuel and fertiliser subsidies in 2012-13 is pegged at over Rs 1.79 lakh crore. The government also got Parliament's nod for an additional Rs 28,500 crore towards petroleum subsidy in the supplementary grants.

The government has increased price of subsidised diesel and also capped the supply of subsidised LPG cylinders.

Chidambaram said government's emphasis is on eliminating effective revenue deficit by 2014-15 and generating adequate surplus thereafter.

"This would also help augment resources for financing investment and capital expenditure, including grants for creation of capital assets," he said.

He also that to mitigate the adverse effects of petroleum price rise, rise in prices of other commodities and the huge crisis in global financial system during 2008-09, government had to explore suitable fiscal as well as policy options.

The government had given three fiscal stimulus packages to cushion the impact of global slowdown.

Chidambaram, however, said the concessions were not to any particular section of people, but measures targeted at revival of economy through sector specific measures.

Story first published on: December 20, 2012 14:37 (IST)

Tags: P. Chidambaram, fiscal deficit, Finance Minister

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