Govt committed to keep fiscal deficit within budgetary target, says Jaitley

Arun Jaitley,PM Modi economic review meeting,Finance minister

The government has made a decision to cut non-essential imports and increase exports amid a widening current account deficit (CAD), sliding rupee and soaring crude oil prices, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Friday.

"We are confident that between direct and indirect tax collections, the government will comfortably meet the target if not surpass it", he said, adding the Rs 1 lakh crore disinvestment target will be surpassed.

Jaitley said the income tax collections have been robust with expanding the base and collections will exceed budgetary targets.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) was also settling down, he said while exuding the confidence of surpassing the Rs 1 lakh crore target from disinvestment proceeds.

He added that CBDT was "very clear" that this year the government would be able to collect taxes in excess of the budgeted target.

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Modi Government has assured that fiscal deficit for the current year will be within the budget target which is 3.3 per cent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

However, the FM did not say if today's meeting discussed the recent spike in fuel prices. He said that during a presentation given by RBI it was said that India's growth is fast compared to other economies and inflation was also in moderate rage. Speaking to reporters after Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed various departments of the finance ministry, he said that the PM was satisfied with the economic data.

"And on basis of all these analyses, we are optimistic about our growth rate, our tax collection and certainly as far as fiscal deficit is concerned will strictly meet the 3.3 per cent target", he said. This has widened India's current account deficit and pushed its balance of payments into the red in April-June for the first time in six quarters. The government is under pressure from the opposition parties over high fuel prices. The PM is reviewing the state of the economy against the backdrop of the rupee being battered over the past few weeks as well as growing unease over rising petrol and diesel prices. However, "there are some issues on which immediate action is needed", the minister said while announcing steps to increase inflow of foreign funds and check current account deficit. The Centre now levies a total of Rs 19.48 per litre of excise duty on petrol and Rs 15.33 per litre on diesel.

At Saturday's meeting, the second in two days, the Prime Minister reviewed the economic situation. And even though we had a stiff target for direct tax collection, we can now see the impact of all the anti-black money measures which we had taken, like demonetisation and the GST. There is a phenomenal increase in the number of people filing tax returns and the quantum of advance tax being paid.

Experts said that the optimism on meeting tax target was well placed.

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