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Will aim at 4.8% Fiscal Deficit in 2013-14: Chidambaram

Expressing India's commitment to fiscal prudence, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the government will contain deficit at 5.3 per cent of GDP in the current year, and bring it down to 4.8 per cent in 2013-14. 



Expressing India's commitment to fiscal prudence, Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Tuesday said the government will contain deficit at 5.3 per cent of GDP in the current year, and bring it down to 4.8 per cent in 2013-14. 

"The first step is fiscal consolidation and (India is) committed to the path of fiscal prudence. At the end of this year we will achieve the target of 5.3 per cent of fiscal deficit and next year I will budget it no more than 4.8 per cent," he told in Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Chidambaram said the government is committed to lowering the fiscal deficit by 0.6 per cent every year for the next five years.

"Under no circumstances will I agree to bridge the fiscal target of 5.3 per cent (in current fiscal)," he said.

Rising expenditure on subsidies has put pressure on government finances.

This has prompted the government to raise the fiscal deficit target for the current fiscal to 5.3 per cent, from 5.1 per cent announced in Budget.

Chidambaram said the fiscal correction measures that the government has undertaken in the recent months will help avert the threat of a ratings downgrade.

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's and Fitch have threatened a downgrade of India's sovereign ratings.

"I think the steps we have taken assured everybody that there will not be a rating downgrade. They were concerned about our ability to stay on course after we announced the decisions. They are happy we stayed on course after announcing FDI in multi-brand retail," he said.

"They were concerned that we will not correct fuel prices. But even the small steps we gave taken gas given them confidence that we will correct the fuel prices. I think each of the measures has boosted their confidence in the Indian economy," he said.

The government has taken a host of steps to contain the outgo on subsidies, including limiting the number of subsidised LPG cylinders to 9 per family a year and partial deregulation of diesel prices.

As per the fiscal consolidation roadmap outlined by the Finance Ministry, the fiscal deficit would be brought down to 3 per cent of the GDP by 2016-17 fiscal.

"As fiscal consolidation takes place, and investor confidence increases, it is expected that the economy will return to the path of high investment, higher growth, lower inflation and long term sustainability," Chidambaram had said while unveiling the fiscal consolidation roadmap in November last year.

Containing the fiscal deficit at 5.3 per cent of GDP this year would also depend on the revenue receipts from disinvestment and spectrum sale as also the tax mop up.

So far this fiscal, the government has been able to raise Rs 6,900 crore through disinvestment of PSUs.

League Business Desk

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Government Removes Customs Duty on Export of sugar to 0% from 20%

This will help in maintaining demand and supply balance; thereby stabilising the domestic sugar prices in India.



During the current Sugar Season 2017-18, the sugar production in the country is estimated to be substantially higher than the estimated domestic consumption. Sufficient surplus stock of sugar may be available for export.

In order to promote exports with the objective of evacuating surplus stocks from the country, the Government has decided to remove customs duty on export of sugar from its current level of 20% to zero percent.

This will also help in maintaining demand and supply balance and thereby stabilising the domestic sugar prices in the country.

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President inaugurates Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

President Ram Nath Kovind on March 19 inaugurated a Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and presented the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation awards at Rashtrapati Bhavan.



President Ram Nath Kovind on March 19 inaugurated a Festival of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and presented the Gandhian Young Technological Innovation awards at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The five-day festival is an initiative to recognise, respect, showcase, reward innovations and to foster a supportive ecosystem for innovators.

It is being organised by Rashtrapati Bhavan in association with the Department of Science and Technology and the National Innovation Foundation-India.

The festival is a platform for innovators to build linkages with potential stakeholders whose support can improve their prospects in coming years to develop their ideas into implementable projects for the larger social good.

Speaking on the occasion, President Kovind said that it was imperative to create an environment to transform innovation into entrepreneurship.The number of innovators participating in the festival this year has considerably increased. 250 innovators are participating in it.

Steps have also been initiated to promote lateral learning and linkages among the innovators to enrich the ecosystem for sharing of ideas as also provide a window to showcase creative and innovative solutions for social development through innovation emerging from grassroots, student ideas and other technologies.

The innovations showcased can positively impact fields such as agriculture, rural development, sanitation, health, women and child development, biotechnology and medicine.

Platforms like this can provide opportunities for young innovators to present their work not only within the country but worldwide.

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Digital Transactions in India to Cross $1 Trillion a Year by 2025



Demonetisation and cashless drive has pushed the growth trajectory of digital payments in India significantly, and by 2025, digital transactions in the country could be worth USD 1 trillion annually, says a report.

According to a white paper by ACI Worldwide along with AGS Transact Technologies (AGSTTL), digital transactions in India could be worth USD 1 trillion annually by 2025, with four out of every five transactions being made digitally.

“The user base for digital transactions in India is currently close to 90 million, but could triple to 300 million by 2020 as new users from rural and semi-urban areas enter the market”.

“Flexible, scalable and reliable technology will be critical to the future of payments in India as the market continues to experience incredible growth,” said Manish Patel, Vice President, ACI Worldwide.

Meanwhile, with the rise in digital payments, cybersecurity costs for companies in India is also rising.

Mahesh Patel, Group Chief Technology Officer, AGS Transact Technologies said, “we understand that rapid rise in internet users nationwide is spurring an increase in digital transactions. However, the Indian market unlike many western nations is still to mature and remains threatened due to lower awareness levels”.

As per the report, Cyber attacks cost India an estimated USD 4 billion annually and could rise to USD 20 billion by 2025, with the digitisation of payments presenting new challenges for cybersecurity.

“It is necessary that the rise in digital transactions remain holistic thereby supporting growth with scalable processing platform. Also, it should be accompanied by allied precautionary measures such as cybersecurity and fraud prevention,” Patel said.

Mass adoption of e-payments and a thriving fintech scene, combined with regulatory policy, are set to propel India into a leading position in the global payments landscape, it said adding unified payments interface (UPI) transactions are a key driver of greater financial inclusion.

The white paper titled “Transactions 2025” noted that India’s smartphone user base is likely to double to 500 million by 2020 as affordable devices and data will spur safe, fraud-resistant digital transactions based on biometrics and multi-factor authorisation.

ACI Worldwide is a global provider of real-time electronic payment and banking solutions, while AGS Transact Technologies (AGSTTL), is an end-to-end payment solutions company.

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