Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal on Monday said the government was committed to meeting the fiscal deficit target of 3.3% for the current financial year even though the General Elections will be held next year. The minister said the government would not cut down on spending to meet the target as it has enough alternative resources for planned expenditure. Goyal made the comments at an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry in New Delhi.
In the 2017-’18 financial year, fiscal deficit stood at 3.53% of the Gross Domestic Product, broadly in line with the government’s revised estimates. “Fiscal digit this year will be down to 3.3% and I can assure you that we are monitoring and working to ensure that fiscal deficit will be contained at 3.3% despite this being an election year, despite this being a year traditionally, and I will urge you to look at history be it 2013-’14, be it 2007-’08 or 2008-’09, where fiscal deficits, micro-economic stability, good governance were thrown to the wind for political exigencies,” the minister said in an apparent reference to the previous Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government.
Asked about the rising prices of petrol and diesel, Goyal said the government has has been responsible in managing the economy and prices. “We have factored in what would be the increased oil price,” he told the audience. “Some of it were factored before the budget. Some of it we have now. And with alternate sources...without cut in expenditure, we will be able to meet the fiscal deficit.”
The minister said the Goods and Services Tax Council would have to decide on bringing petroleum products within the tax regime’s ambit. “We have maintained the dignity of the GST council to have unanimous decisions and the good part is that the federal structure, even though it has different political ideologies in different states, they have all worked together to ensure the success of GST and maybe in the next meeting there could be a discussion on this.” In April, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan urged the council to consider bringing petrol and diesel under its ambit in order to bring down their prices.
Goyal said the government was committed to meeting the aspirations of the people. “We will meet our objectives of good governance,” he said. “We will meet our objective for society to reach benefits of growth to poorest of the poor but we will also strengthen the Indian economy.”