Union budget: Growth, fiscal consolidation top challenges

March 15th, 2012 - 9:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Pranab Mukherjee New Delhi, March 15 (IANS) Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee will present the budget for 2012-13 Friday against the backdrop of a sharp slowdown in growth, deteriorating fiscal conditions, continuing inflationary pressure and political turbulence.

This will be the seventh time Mukherjee will be presenting budget in the Lok Sabha, the second highest number of time by any finance minister. Mukherjee had presented budgets for three consecutive years in early 1980s.

The maximum number of 10 budgets were presented by former Prime Minister Morarji Desai. He held the finance portfolio
from 1959-64, 1967-70 and between 1977 and 1979.

Mukherjee is facing a huge challenge of reviving economic growth, which has slowed down over the last six quarters.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth fell to three year low of 6.1 percent in third quarter of the current financial year. It was recorded 7.7 percent in the first quarter and 6.9 percent in the second quarter of the current fiscal.

According the Central Statistical Organisation data, economic growth is expected to fall to 6.9 percent for the fiscal ending March 31, against the budgetary target of around nine percent.

The Economic Survey, which was tabled in parliament Thursday, projected economic growth at 7.6 percent for 2012-13 and 8.6 percent for 2013-14.

Fiscal situation has worsened this year. Fiscal deficit is projected to increase to 5.6 percent of the GDP as against the budgetary target of 4.6 percent.

Despite the recent moderation, inflationary pressure continues and the Reserve Bank of India said in its mid-quarter review Thursday that it would resurface if the government did not control its spending.

The survey, presented a day before the annual budget, said inflation will remain in the range of 6.5-7 percent by end of March.

However, it said that fiscal consolidation was the only way to keep inflation down.

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