The Finance Ministry has found a way to meet the fiscal deficit target for 2013-14 without suffocating the UPA government’s flagship “aam aadmi” schemes or the defence budget.
Highly placed officials told The Hindu that the Ministry had more or less completed the process of deciding the cuts in 2013-14 budget allocations to ministries and schemes for keeping the fiscal deficit within the target of 4.8 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product. These Revised Estimates would be tabled in Parliament as part of the Vote-On-Account in February 2014, the officials said.
To the ministries that were protesting that the funds squeeze could adversely impact the implementation of development schemes on the ground level, the Ministry had decided to provide additional funds through a “seldom-used provision of Vote-On-Account,” the officials said.
Additional funds would be allocated to these ministries for April and May that technically fall in 2014-15, the officials said. “This way, the allocations will not disturb the fiscal deficit for 2013-14.”
The Ministry has written to the complaining ministries seeking their estimates of additional funds. These include the Ministries of Health, Roads, Rural Development and Defence.
A Vote-On-Account is the provision by which a government obtains the vote of Parliament for incurring expenditure through withdrawal from the Consolidated Fund of India.
Normally, the Vote-On-Account is taken for two months only. But during election year or when it is anticipated that the main Demands and Appropriation Bill will take longer time than two months, the Vote-On-Account may be for a period extending two months.