File image of PM Narendra Modi at the 150th anniversary of the Kolkata Port Trust | PTI
File image of PM Narendra Modi at the 150th anniversary of the Kolkata Port Trust | PTI
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New Delhi: The government has met the fiscal deficit target of 3.8 per cent of GDP for 2019-20, indicated Atanu Chakraborty, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Tuesday.

Chakraborty, who addressed a press briefing, also reiterated the government’s commitment to provide for all Covid-19 related expenditure in 2020-21.

“At the RE (revised estimates for 2019-20 presented on 1 February) stage itself, a very realistic estimate had been made of the revenues as well as the proposed expenditures. Additionalities were also provided,” said Chakraborty, when asked if the government had met the fiscal deficit target for 2019-20.

“On account of that, a forbearance of 0.5 per cent of the GDP was also taken. Therefore, for the past year, the issue of fiscal deficit is not much in question.”

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had opted to increase the fiscal deficit targets by 0.5 percentage points for both 2019-20 and 2020-21 but that was before the near halt in economic activity as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the nationwide lockdown that followed.

Chakraborty was briefing reporters after announcing the borrowing programme for the first half of 2020-21 by the government. The government stuck to its borrowing plan and announced that 62.5 per cent of the full year borrowing of Rs 7.8 lakh crore will be made in the first half of the year.

The government will do all necessary things to meet expenditures related to health, to provide for the poor and vulnerable and for resurgence and recovery for industry, Chakraborty said. He, however, did not directly comment on whether the fiscal deficit target for 2020-21 will be met.

Chakraborty said the borrowing programme has been designed in a fashion to ensure that the government has sufficient funds for cash management and to meet the requirements for fighting Covid-19, including addressing the “health issues, protecting the economy or providing the necessary stimulus at any point of time”.

Over the last one week, the government and the RBI have announced a slew of measures to provide relief to businesses, taxpayers, borrowers and the poor.

These include a Rs 1.7 lakh crore relief package that has cash transfers and free foodgrains for the poorest section of society and a three-month loan moratorium for all term loans given by banks.

The government also announced a relief in filing of tax returns and meeting other compliances.


Also read: Banks finally start moving on 3-month loan EMI deferment, after push from govt and RBI


 

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