India to Borrow $100 Billion For $240 Billion 2010 Budget
Going forward, India plans to cut the deficit to 5.5 percent of gross domestic product in the year starting April 1 from 6.9 percent the previous year. The effort, which relies on tax increases and 400 billion rupees ($9 billion) of state asset sales, is aimed at shrinking a debt burden equivalent to about 82 percent of the GDP.
The defense allocation for 2010-2011 is up another 8.13 percent on top of the massive 34% increase in 2009-2010, according to media reports.
India's defense expenditure has been raised to Rs.147,344 crore (Rs.1.47 trillion/$32 billion) for 2010-11, up 8.13 percent from the revised estimates of the previous fiscal, in the budget presented by Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee in the Lok Sabha today.
According to the Wall Street Journal, India is one of the largest buyers of foreign-made munitions, with a long shopping list which includes warships, fighter jets, tanks and other weapons. Its defense budget is $30 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, a 70% increase from five years ago. The country is preparing its military to deal with multiple potential threats, including conflict with China and Pakistan.
"For 2010 and 2011, India could well be the most important market in the world for defense contractors looking to make foreign military sales," according to Tom Captain, the vice chairman of Deloitte LLP's aerospace and defense practice.
In addition to defense, the much-needed social sector spending has also received a significant boost in the new budget.
• The spending on social sector has been gradually increased to Rs1,37,674 crore in 2010-11, which is 37% of the total plan outlay in 2010-11.
• Another 25% of the plan allocations are devoted to the development of rural infrastructure.
• Plan allocation for school education increased by 16% from Rs26,800 crore in 2009-10 to Rs31,036 crore in 2010-11.
• In addition, States will have access to Rs3,675 crore for elementary education under the Thirteenth Finance Commission grants for 2010-11.
• An Annual Health Survey to prepare the District Health Profile of all Districts shall be conducted in 2010-11.
• Plan allocation to Ministry of Health & Family Welfare increased from Rs19,534 crore in 2009-10 to Rs22,300 crore for 2010-11.
With 4.57 trillion rupees (about $100 billion) budget shortfall, the Indian government plans record levels of borrowing next year and will count on surging economic growth to help cut its fiscal deficit, putting pressure on the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to be more aggressive in its monetary tightening, according to Reuters. Interest rate hikes by the RBI will raise the cost of borrowing by the private sector companies, and hurt India's economic growth.
Some analysts have praised the plan to reduce the fiscal deficit to 5.5 percent of the projected GDP in the new year from 6.9 percent of actual GDP this year, with further declines in planned coming years, and a RBI deputy governor said the budget addressed concerns on fiscal discipline. But other analysts said India had missed a chance to take more aggressive fiscal measures as Asia's third-largest economy gathers speed, reinforcing perceptions that the coalition government lacks the firmness to make tough decisions.
On top of the union budget deficit of 6.9% of GDP, the gross fiscal deficit of state governments is budgeted to increase to 3.2% of GDP in 2009-10 (Budget estimates), compared with 2.6% of GDP in 2008-09 (revised estimates). Revenue account turned from a surplus of 0.2% in 2008-09 (RE) to a deficit of 0.5% of GDP in 2009-10 (BE), according to a study 'State Finances: A Study of Budgets of 2009-10,' released by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
The study also noted that state-wise, revenue accounts of four states West Bengal, Punjab, Kerala, and Rajasthan recorded revenue deficits during 2008-09 (RE). Jharkhand turned from a revenue deficit to a revenue surplus state. In 2009-10 (BE), 10 states are expected to turn revenue deficit from a surplus status in the previous year. Overall, the revenue account is expected to be adversely impacted in the case of 23 states during 2009-10 (BE), the study noted.
The debt-GDP ratio of state governments came down to 26.2% in 2008-09 (RE) from the peak level of 32.8%, at the end of March, 2004. However, outstanding debt is budgeted to increase marginally to 26.5% of GDP by end-March 2010. The XII Finance Commission had recommended that states achieve a debt-GDP ratio of 30.8% till the end of March 2010.
In an opinion piece on Countercurrents, India's former commerce minister has said that Mukherjee "has failed to address the core issues of reducing public debt, curb the dangerously high fiscal deficit[ even the claimed target for 2010-11 of 5.5 per cent is too high, and will represent a huge diversion of funds with public sector banks away from private sector investment], and introduce innovation into the ailing industries such as Textiles, Food Processing, Power Generation and Distribution. Hence, despite his heroic effort to put together a promising Budget, he has at best produced a damp squib for financial reforms".
Swamy is particularly concerned about India's growing public debt which is now "over 90% of GDP and on an exploding trajectory".
Although rising public debt is always a concern, I think India's saving grace is that about 90% of its public debt is owed to its own citizens who save about 30% of their income. Of the rest, a big chunk of debt is held by IFIs like the World Bank, which, are not likely to press for quick repayment. At $230 billion, India's external debt accounts for 22% of GDP as of March 2009, according to Reserve Bank of India. In terms of the international comparison of external debt of the twenty most indebted countries, India was the fifth most indebted country in 2007.
Swamy further said that the Indian "agriculture has been poorly performing since 2003 due to investment starvation and lack of adequate purchase price. Indian manufacturing sector unlike the Chinese’ is domestic demand driven. IT software giants were skillful in finding new markets and cheaper labor from tier II and III cities in India. All, no thanks to government".
Members of the opposition in Indian parliament boycotted much of the budget session, saying government plans to increase fuel prices would further add to the woes of millions of Indians hit by high prices.
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