• Budget is an Annual Financial Statement of yearly estimated receipts and expenditures of the government in respect of every financial year.
• Budgeting is the process of estimating the availability of resources and then allocating them to various activities according to a pre-determined priority.
• Budgets act as instruments of control and act as a benchmark to evaluate the progress of various departments.
TYPES OF BUDGETING
• A performance budget reflects the goal/objectives of the organization and spells out its performance targets.
• These targets are sought to be achieved through a strategy. Unit costs are associated with the strategy and allocations are accordingly made for achievement of the objectives.
• A Performance Budget gives an indication of how the funds spent are expected to give outputs and ultimately the outcomes.
• However, performance budgeting has a limitation – it is not easy to arrive at standard unit costs especially in social programmes, which require a multi-pronged approach.
• The basic purpose of ZBB is phasing out of programmes/activities, which do not have relevance anymore. ZBB is done to overhaul the functioning of the government departments and PSUs so that productivity can be increased and wastage can be minimized. Scarce government resources can be deployed efficiently. Therefore, Zero Based Budgeting is followed for rationalization of expenditure.
• The concept of zero-based budgeting was introduced in the 1970s. As the name suggests, in the process every budgeting cycle starts from scratch.
• Unlike the earlier systems, where only incremental changes were made in the allocation, under zero-based budgeting every activity is evaluated each time a budget is made and only if it is established that the activity is necessary, funds are allocated to it.
• Under the ZBB, a close and critical examination is made of the existing government programmes, projects and other activities to ensure that funds are made available to high priority items by eliminating outdated programmes and reducing funds to the low priority items.
• Governmental programmes and projects are appraised every year as if they are new and funding for the existing items is not continued merely because a part of the project cost has already been incurred.
• Programme budgeting aimed at a system in which expenditure would be planned and controlled by the objective. The basic building block of the system was classification of expenditure into programmes, which meant objective-oriented classification so that programmes with common objectives are considered together.
Programme and Performance Budgeting System (PPBS)
• PPBS went much beyond the core elements of programme budgeting and was much more than the budgeting system. It aimed at an integrated expenditure management system, in which systematic policy and expenditure planning would be developed and closely integrated with the budget. Thus, it was too ambitious in scope.
• Neither was adequate preparation time given nor was a stage-by-stage approach adopted. Therefore, this attempt to introduce PPBS in the federal government in USA did not succeed, although the concept of performance budgeting and programme budgeting endured.
• Many governments today use the “programme budgeting” label for their performance budgeting system. As pointed out by Marc Robertson, the contemporary influence of the basic programme budgeting idea is much wider than the continuing use of the label. It is defined in terms of its core elements as mentioned above. Programme budgeting is an element of many contemporary budgeting systems which aim at linking funding and results.
• The Outcome Budget is a progress card on what various ministries and departments have done with the outlay announced in the annual budget.
• It is a performance measurement tool that helps in better service delivery; decision-making; evaluating programme performance and results; communicating programme goals; and improving programme effectiveness.
• The Outcome Budget is likely to comprise scheme- or project-wise outlays for all central ministries, departments and organizations during 2005-06 listed against corresponding outcomes (measurable physical targets) to be achieved during the year.
• It measures the development outcomes of all government programmes. The Outcome Budget, however, will not necessarily include information of targets already achieved.
• This method of monitoring flow of funds, implementation of schemes and the actual results of the usage of the money is followed by many countries.
• The 2005-06 Budget introduced a statement highlighting the gender sensitivities of the budgetary allocations.
• Gender budgeting is an exercise to translate the stated gender commitments of the government into budgetary commitments, involving special initiatives for empowering women and examination of the utilization of resources allocated for women and the impact of public expenditure and policies of the government on women.
BALANCED AND UNBLANCED BUDGETS
A. Balanced Budgeting
1. A Balanced Budget is that budget in which Government receipts are equal to Government expenditure.
Merits of the Balanced Budget
1. The Government does not indulge in wasteful expenditure.
2. Interference in economic functioning of the system is totally avoided by the government generally.
3. Financial stability is ensured with balanced budget.
4. However, balanced budget is not an achievement of the government when economy is in a state of depression for at that time, government is expected to increase its expenditure with a view to increasing aggregate demand.
Demerits of a Balanced Budget
1. Balanced budget does not offer any solution to the problem of unemployment during depression.
2. Balanced budget is not helpful to the growth and development programmes of the less developed countries.
B. Unbalanced Budgeting
1. An unbalanced budget is that budget in which receipts and expenditure of the government are not equal.
2. In this, two cases concerning surplus Budget and Deficit Budget arise.
3. In Surplus Budget, Government receipts are greater than Government expenditures. While in the case of Deficit Budget, Government expenditures are greater than Government receipts.
Merits of a Deficit Budget
(i) It helps in addressing the problem of unemployment during depressions.
(ii) It is conducive for growth and development in less developed countries
(iii) It works towards social welfare of the people.
Demerits of Deficit Budget
(i) It shows wasteful expenditure by the government.
(ii) It shows less revenue realization in comparison with the expenditure.
(iii) It increases debt burden of the government.
Theory and Concept of Budget
• There is a constitutional requirement in India (Article 112) to present before the Parliament a statement of estimated receipts and expenditures of the government in respect of every financial year which runs from 1 April to 31 March.
• This ‘Annual Financial Statement’ constitutes the main budget document.
• Further, the budget must distinguish expenditure on the revenue account from other expenditures.
• Therefore, the budget comprises of the
(a) Revenue Budget and the
(b) Capital Budget
Components of Government Budget
I. Revenue Budget
The Revenue Budget shows the current receipts of the government and the expenditure that can be met from these receipts.
• Revenue receipts are divided into tax and non-tax revenues.
• Tax revenues consist of the proceeds of taxes and other duties levied by the central government.
• Tax revenues, an important component of revenue receipts, comprise of
– Direct taxes – which fall directly on individuals (personal income tax) and firms (corporation tax), and
– Indirect taxes like excise taxes (duties levied on goods produced within the country), customs duties (taxes imposed on goods imported into and exported out of India) and service tax.
• Non-tax revenue of the central government mainly consists of
– Interest receipts (on account of loans by the central government which constitutes the single largest item of non-tax revenue)
– Dividends and profits on investments made by the government
– Fees and other receipts for services rendered by the government.
– Cash grants-in-aid from foreign countries and international organizations are also included.
• The estimates of revenue receipts take into account the effects of tax proposals made in the Finance Bill. A Finance Bill, presented along with the Annual Financial Statement, provides details of the imposition, abolition, remission, alteration or regulation of taxes proposed in the Budget.
• Revenue expenditure consists of all those expenditures of the government which do not result in creation of physical or financial assets.
• It relates to those expenses incurred for the normal functioning of the government departments and various services, interest payments on debt incurred by the government, and grants given to state governments and other parties (even though some of the grants may be meant for creation of assets).
• Budget documents classify total revenue expenditure into Plan and Non-plan expenditure
• Plan revenue expenditure relates to central Plans (the Five-Year Plans) and central assistance for State and Union Territory Plans.
• Non-plan expenditure, the more important component of revenue expenditure, covers a vast range of general, economic and social services of the government. The main items of non-plan expenditure are interest payments, defence services, subsidies, salaries and pensions. Interest payments on market loans, external loans and from various reserve funds constitute the single largest component of non-plan revenue expenditure. They used up 41.5 per cent of revenue receipts in 2004-05. Defence expenditure, the second largest component of non-plan expenditure, is committed expenditure in the sense that given the national security concerns, there exists a little scope for drastic reduction.
• Subsidies are an important policy instrument which aim at increasing welfare. Apart from providing implicit subsidies through under-pricing of public goods and services like education and health, the government also extends subsidies explicitly on items such as exports, interest on loans, food and fertilizers.
II. The Capital Account
The Capital Budget is an account of the assets as well as liabilities of the central government, which takes into consideration changes in capital. It consists of capital receipts and capital expenditure of the government. This shows the capital requirements of the government and the pattern of their financing.
• The main items of capital receipts are loans raised by the government from the public which are called market borrowings, borrowing by the government from the Reserve Bank and commercial banks and other financial institutions through the sale of treasury bills, loans received from foreign governments and international organizations, and recoveries of loans granted by the central government.
• Other items include small savings (Post-Office Savings Accounts, National Savings Certificates, etc), provident funds and net receipts obtained from the sale of shares in Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).
• This includes expenditure on the acquisition of land, building, machinery, equipment, investment in shares, and loans and advances by the central government to state and union territory governments, PSUs and other parties.
• Capital expenditure is also categorized as plan and non-plan in the budget documents.
• Plan capital expenditure, like its revenue counterpart, relates to central plan and central assistance for state and union territory plans.
• Non-plan capital expenditure covers various general, social and economic services provided by the government.
• The budget is not merely a statement of receipts and expenditures. Since Independence, with the launching of the Five-Year Plans, it has also become a significant national policy statement.
• The budget, it has been argued, reflects and shapes, and is, in turn, shaped by the country’s economic life.
• Along with the budget, three policy statements are mandated by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBMA).
• The Medium-term Fiscal Policy Statement sets a three-year rolling target for specific fiscal indicators and examines whether revenue expenditure can be financed through revenue receipts on a sustainable basis and how productively capital receipts including market borrowings are being utilized.
• The Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement sets the priorities of the government in the fiscal area, examining current policies and justifying any deviation in important fiscal measures. The Macroeconomic Framework Statement assesses the prospects of the economy with respect to the GDP growth rate, fiscal balance of the central government and external balance.
When a government spends more than it collects by way of revenue, it incurs a budget deficit. There are various measures that capture government deficit and they have their own implications for the economy.
Types of Deficits
• The revenue deficit refers to the excess of government’s revenue expenditure over revenue receipts.
• Revenue deficit = Revenue expenditure – Revenue receipts.
• The revenue deficit includes only such transactions that affect the current income and expenditure of the government.
• When the government incurs a revenue deficit, it implies that the government is dissaving and is using up the savings of the other sectors of the economy to finance a part of its consumption expenditure.
• This will lead to a buildup of stock of debt and interest liabilities and force the government, eventually, to cut expenditure. Since a major part of revenue expenditure is committed expenditure, it cannot be reduced. Often the government reduces productive capital expenditure or welfare expenditure. This would mean lower growth and adverse welfare implications.
• Fiscal deficit is the difference between the government’s total expenditure and its total receipts excluding borrowing.
• Gross fiscal deficit = Total expenditure – (Revenue receipts + Non-debt creating capital receipts)
• Non-debt creating capital receipts are those receipts which are not borrowings and, therefore, do not give rise to debt. Examples are recovery of loans and the proceeds from the sale of PSUs.
• The fiscal deficit will have to be financed through borrowings.
• Thus, it indicates the total borrowing requirements of the government from all sources. From the financing side.
• Gross fiscal deficit = Net borrowing at home + Borrowing from RBI + Borrowing from abroad
• Net borrowing at home includes that directly borrowed from the public through debt instruments (for example, the various small savings schemes) and indirectly from commercial banks through Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR).
• Primary deficit is simply the fiscal deficit minus the interest payments
• Gross primary deficit = Gross fiscal deficit – net interest liabilities
• Net interest liabilities consist of interest payments minus interest receipts by the government on net domestic lending.
• Deficit Financing is the phrase used to describe “the financing of a deliberately created gap between public revenue and public expenditure or a budgetary deficit, the method of financing resorted to being borrowing from the RBI.”
• When the Government has to spend more than what it can raise through taxes, non-tax and other sources, it borrows from the market.
• It cannot borrow above a certain amount from the market as it may push up interest rates and crowd out private investment.
• Then it borrows from the RBI. In other words, when the resources from taxes, user charges, public sector enterprises, public borrowings, small scale borrowings and others are not enough, RBI is approached for loans. It is called deficit financing.
Managing Fiscal Deficit
• Reduction of fiscal deficit is important as Large and persistent fiscal deficits are a serious cause of concern because it poses several risks.
– First, fiscal deficits may cause macroeconomic instability by inflating the economy as money supply rises.
– Second, they negatively impact on savings rates, reducing investment and jeopardizing the sustainability of high growth.
– Thirdly, private investment may be crowded out. Interest rates go up to make cost of credit high for investment thus pulling down growth.
– Fourthly, the continuing large deficits, even if they do not spill over into macroeconomic instability in the short run, will require higher taxes in the long term to cover the heavy burden of internal debt.
– High tax rates will place India at a significant disadvantage to other fast-growing countries. Also, as the FRBM Act says, inter generational parity is hurt if debt mounts as future generations will have to pay higher taxes to help the government repay the debt.
• However, the extent of reduction and the manner of reduction matter. More resources should be raised on the revenue side (taxes etc). Expenditure control should not involve cuts on social sector expenditure as it hurts the poor and demographic dividend cannot be reaped.
• The level of FD should be determined keeping in consideration the following –
– whether the debt can be put to productive deployment
– the rate of return on the borrowed funds used
– the impact on private sector investment; interest rates etc
• Even more important is not to cut social spending in a move to reduce deficit. In other words, while FD reduction is needed for macroeconomic stability and inter-generational parity, what is even more important is to make sure that social sector items are taken care of fully while reduction of expenditure is affected.
• Budgetary deficits must be financed by taxation, borrowing or printing money.
• Governments have mostly relied on borrowing, giving rise to what is called government debt.
• The concepts of deficits and debt are closely related. Deficits can be thought of as a flow which adds to the stock of debt. If the government continues to borrow year after year, it leads to the accumulation of debt and the government has to pay more and more by way of interest. These interest payments themselves contribute to the debt.
• Public Debt includes internal debt comprising borrowings inside the country like market loans; borrowing from the RBI on the basis of treasury bills; and external debt comprising loans from foreign countries, international financial institutions, etc.
• Public debt is justified as the government does not have adequate resources and taxation cannot be done beyond a point. It should be for productive reasons and also welfare reasons. The spiral of deficit and debt run the risk of undermining the country’s creditworthiness, devaluing the currency and destabilizing the entire economy with grave social consequences.
1. External debt includes –
a. Long-term external debt which is the bulk part
b. NRI deposits and multilateral loans
c. Commercial borrowings
d. Bilateral loans and
e. Negligible amount from export credit.
f. External debt-to-GDP ratio has been on the decline since 1991
2. Government has been able to check the external debt through measures like raising funds from least expensive sources, accelerating growth in export, prepaying high-cost debts, maintaining vigil on build up of short-term debt and encouraging foreign direct investments.
1. Internal debt includes loans raised by the government in the open market through treasury bills and government securities, special securities issued to the RBI, rupee securities (non-interest bearing) issued to international institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank and, most importantly, various bonds like the oil bonds,-fertilizer bonds etc.
2. The money sucked in by the Market Stabilization Scheme (MSS) is also shown in the government’s statement of liabilities. Introduced in April 2004, the scheme envisages the issue of treasury bills and/or dated securities to absorb excess liquidity arising out of the excessive foreign exchange inflows.
1. The debt of the government also includes others like the outstanding against small-savings schemes, provident funds, deposits under special deposit schemes etc. These debts are shown under a separate head titled ‘other liabilities’.
• Fiscal consolidation means improving government finances and maintaining the same.
• Fiscal consolidation is critical as it enables government to spend more on infrastructure and social sectors.
• Tax reforms, disinvestment, better targeting of subsidies and so on are the hallmarks of fiscal consolidation.
Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBMA)
• Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act (FRBMA) provides an institutional framework and binds the government to adopt prudent fiscal policies.
• There is a need to involve states to effect overall fiscal consolidation and strengthen the growth momentum with macro-economic stability.
• VAT is an important federal effort toward fiscal reforms and consolidation. An important part of fiscal consolidation is to privatize loss-making state-run companies or to close them.
• Fiscal consolidation is important for benign inflation and interest rates that will bring in more private investment.
• Without fiscal consolidation, it is not possible to step up public investment, especially in areas such as agriculture.
Fiscal consolidation in India includes –
1. Revenue reforms which include tax reforms on both direct and indirect tax front; reduction/elimination of tax exemptions and treating the revenue forgone as tax expenditure, improving efficiency of tax collection, including the arrears and stable medium term tax rates avoiding annual changes.
2. Expenditure reforms which include cutting out non-essential and unproductive activities, schemes and projects; allocation of resources to priority areas; reducing cost of services; rationalizing subsidies; reduction of time and cost overruns on projects and getting proper ‘outcome’ from output.
Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act, 2003 (FRBMA)
• In a multi-party parliamentary system, electoral concerns play an important role in determining expenditure policies. A legislative provision that is applicable to all governments – present and future – is likely to be effective in keeping deficits under control.
• The enactment of the FRBMA, in August 2003, marked a turning point in fiscal reforms, binding the government through an institutional framework to pursue a prudent fiscal policy.
• The central government must ensure inter-generational equity, long-term macro-economic stability by achieving sufficient revenue surplus, removing fiscal obstacles to monetary policy and effective debt management by limiting deficits and borrowing.
Main Features of FRBMA
• The Act mandates the central government to take appropriate measures to reduce fiscal deficit and revenue deficits so as to eliminate the revenue deficit by March 31, 2009 and thereafter build up adequate revenue surplus.
• It requires the reduction in fiscal deficit by 0.3 per cent of GDP each year and the revenue deficit by 0.5 per cent. If this is not achieved through tax revenues, the necessary adjustment has to come from a reduction in expenditure.
• The actual deficits may exceed the targets specified only on grounds of national security or natural calamity or such other exceptional grounds as the central government may specify.
• The central government shall not borrow from the Reserve Bank of India except by way of advances to meet temporary excess of cash disbursements over cash receipts
• The Reserve Bank of India must not subscribe to the primary issues of central government securities from the year 2006-07.
Measures to be taken to ensure greater transparency in fiscal operations
• The central government to lay before both Houses of Parliament three statements
– Medium-term Fiscal Policy Statement
– The Fiscal Policy Strategy Statement
– The Macroeconomic Framework Statement along with the Annual Financial Statement.
• Quarterly review of the trends in receipts and expenditure in relation to the budget be placed before both Houses of Parliament.
• The Act applies only to the central government. Though few states like Karnataka, Kerala, Punjab, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh have enacted fiscal responsibility legislations, the objective of fiscal consolidation, growth and macroeconomic stability will not be achieved if all the states do not participate.
• However, though there has been an effort by the government to widen the tax net and ensure better compliance, there have been fears that welfare expenditure may get reduced to meet the targets mandated by the Act.
Terms Associated with Deficits and Fiscal Management
• Deficit financing and spending by a government on public works in an attempt to revive economy during recession is known as pump-priming. It is a countercyclical measure. It can raise the purchasing power of the people and thus stimulate and revive economic activity to the point that deficit spending will no longer be considered necessary to maintain the desired economic activity.
• When the net effect of taxation and public spending is neutral neither stimulating nor dampening demand, it is called fiscal neutrality. It is neutral, as total tax revenue equals total public spending.
• It is a situation where inflation pushes income into higher tax brackets. This results in increase in income taxes but no increase in real purchasing power. This is a problem during periods of high inflation. Government gains due to higher tax collections and the economy suffers as growth is dragged down due to less demand. In high-growth and high inflation economies (‘overheated’), fiscal drag acts as an automatic stabiliser, as it acts naturally to keep demand stable.
• Excessive government borrowing can lead to shrinkage of the liquidity in the market and force the interest rates to go up. Private investment is crowed out, because, liquidity availability is less and the interest rates are high. Investment suffers and growth decelerates. Also the government may not spend the borrowed resources well to generate returns. If the government deploys the funds well, it may have a crowding in effect: the infrastructure built can have a multiplier effect on investment, tax collections and growth.