union budget

Explaining the difference between the government finances reported in the Economic Survey and the Union Budget 2019-20

The Finance Minister, Ms. Nirmala Sitharaman, presented the Union Budget for the financial year 2019-20 in Parliament on July 5, 2019.  In the 2019-20 budget, the government presented the estimates of its expenditure and receipts for the year 2019-20.  The budget also gave an account of how much money the government raised or spent in 2017-18.  In addition, the budget also presented the revised estimates made by the government for the year 2018-19 in comparison to the estimates it had given to Parliament in the previous year’s budget.

What are revised estimates?

Some of the estimates made by the government might change during the course of the year.  For instance, once the year gets underway, some ministries may need more funds than what was actually allocated to them in the budget, or the receipts expected from certain sources might change.  Such deviations from the budget estimates get reflected in the figures released by the government at later stages as part of the subsequent budgets.  Once the year ends, the actual numbers are audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), post which they are presented to Parliament with the upcoming budget, i.e. two years after the estimates are made.

For instance, estimates for the year 2018-19 were presented as part of the 2018-19 budget in February 2018.  In the 2019-20 interim budget presented in February 2019 (10 months after the financial year 2018-19 got underway), the government revised these estimates based on the actual receipts and expenditure accounted so far during the year and incorporated estimates for the remaining two months.

The actual receipts and expenditure accounts of the central government are maintained by the Controller General of Accounts (CGA), Ministry of Finance on a monthly basis.  In addition to the monthly accounts, the CGA also publishes the provisional unaudited figures for the financial year by the end of the month of May.  Once these provisional figures are audited by the CAG, they are presented as actuals in next year’s budget.  The CGA reported the figures for 2018-19 on May 31, 2019.[1]  The Economic Survey 2018-19 presented on July 4, 2019 uses these figures.[2] 

The budget presented on July 5 replicates the revised estimates reported as part of the interim budget (February 1, 2019).  Thus, it did not take into account the updated figures for the year 2018-19 from the CGA.

Table 1 gives a comparison of the 2018-19 revised estimates presented by the central government in the budget with the provisional unaudited figures maintained by the CGA for the year 2018-19.[3]

Table 1:  Budget at a Glance: Comparison of 2018-19 revised estimates with CGA figures (unaudited) (Rs crore)

 

Actuals
2017-18

Budgeted
2018-19

Revised
2018-19

Provisional
2018-19

Difference
(RE 2018-19 to Provisional 2018-19)

Revenue Expenditure

18,78,833

 21,41,772

 21,40,612

20,08,463

-1,32,149

Capital Expenditure

2,63,140

 3,00,441

 3,16,623

3,02,959

-13,664

Total Expenditure

21,41,973

 24,42,213

 24,57,235

23,11,422

 -1,45,813

Revenue Receipts

14,35,233

 17,25,738

 17,29,682

15,63,170

-1,66,512

Capital Receipts

 1,15,678

 92,199

 93,155

1,02,885

9,730

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

Recoveries of Loans

 15,633

 12,199

 13,155

17,840

4,685

Other receipts (including disinvestments)

 1,00,045

 80,000

 80,000

85,045

5,045

Total Receipts (without borrowings)

15,50,911

 18,17,937

 18,22,837

16,66,055

-1,56,782

Revenue Deficit

 4,43,600

 4,16,034

 4,10,930

4,45,293

34,363

% of GDP

2.6

2.2

2.2

2.4

 

Fiscal Deficit

 5,91,062

 6,24,276

 6,34,398

6,45,367

10,969

% of GDP

3.5

3.3

3.4

3.4

 

Primary Deficit

 62,110

 48,481

 46,828

62,692

15,864

% of GDP

0.4

0.3

0.2

0.3

 

Sources:  Budget at a Glance, Union Budget 2019-20; Controller General of Accounts, Ministry of Finance; PRS.

The 2018-19 provisional figures for revenue receipts is Rs 15,63,170 crore, which is Rs 1,66,512 crore less than the revised estimates.  This is largely due to Rs 1,67,455 crore shortfall in centre’s net tax revenue between the revised estimates and the provisional estimates (Table 2).

Major taxes which see a shortfall between the gross tax revenue presented in the revised estimates vis-à-vis the provisional figures are income tax (Rs 67,346 crore) and GST (Rs 59,930 crore).  Non-tax revenue and disinvestment receipts as per the provisional figures are higher than the revised estimates.

Table 2:  Break up of central government receipts: Comparison of 2018-19 RE with CGA figures (unaudited) (Rs crore)

 

Actuals
2017-18

Budgeted
2018-19

Revised
2018-19

Provisional
2018-19

Difference
(RE 2018-19 to Provisional 2018-19)

Gross Tax Revenue

19,19,009

22,71,242

22,48,175

20,80,203

-1,67,972

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

Corporation Tax

5,71,202

6,21,000

6,71,000

6,63,572

-7,428

Taxes on Income

4,30,772

5,29,000

5,29,000

4,61,654

-67,346

Goods and Services Tax

4,42,562

7,43,900

6,43,900

5,83,970

-59,930

Customs

1,29,030

1,12,500

1,30,038

1,17,930

-12,108

Union Excise Duties

2,59,431

2,59,600

2,59,612

2,30,998

-28,614

A. Centre's Net Tax Revenue

12,42,488

14,80,649

14,84,406

13,16,951

-1,67,455

B. Non Tax Revenue

1,92,745

2,45,089

2,45,276

2,46,219

943

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

Interest Receipts

13,574

15,162

12,047

12,815

768

Dividend and Profits

91,361

1,07,312

1,19,264

1,13,424

-5,840

Other Non-Tax Revenue

87,810

1,22,615

1,13,965

1,19,980

6,015

C. Capital Receipts (without borrowings)

1,15,678

92,199

93,155

1,02,885

9,730

of which:

 

 

 

 

 

Disinvestment

1,00,045

80,000

80,000

85,045

5,045

Receipts (without borrowings) (A+B+C)

15,50,911

18,17,937

18,22,837

16,66,055

-1,56,782

Borrowings

5,91,062

6,24,276

6,34,398

6,45,367

10,969

Total Receipts (including borrowings)

21,41,973

24,42,213

24,57,235

23,11,422

-1,45,813

Note:  Centre’s net tax revenue is gross tax revenue less share of states in central taxes.  Figures for GST include receipts from the GST compensation cess.  Note that GST was levied for a nine-month period during the year 2017-18, starting July 2017.

Sources:  Receipts Budget, Union Budget 2019-20; Controller General of Accounts, Ministry of Finance; PRS.

While the provisional figures show a considerable decrease in receipts (Rs 1,56,782 crore) as compared to the revised estimates, fiscal deficit has not shown a comparable increase.  Fiscal deficit is estimated to be Rs 10,969 crore higher than the revised estimates as per the provisional accounts.

On the expenditure side, the total expenditure as per the provisional figures show a decrease of Rs 1,45,813 crore as compared to the revised estimates.  Certain Ministries and expenditure items have seen a decrease in expenditure as compared to the revised estimates made by the government.  As per the provisional accounts, the expenditure of the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution are Rs 22,133 crore and Rs 70,712 crore lower than the revised estimates, respectively.  The decrease in the Ministries’ expenditure as a percentage of the revised estimates are 29% and 39%, respectively.  The food subsidy according to CGA was Rs 1,01,904 crore, which was Rs 69,394 crore lower than the revised estimates for the year 2018-19 given in the budget documents.

 

[1] Accounts of the Union Government of India (Provisional/Unaudited) for the Financial Year 2018-19, Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Finance, May 31, 2019.

[2] Fiscal Developments, Economic Survey 2018-19, https://www.indiabudget.gov.in/economicsurvey/doc/vol2chapter/echap02_vol2.pdf.

[3] Controller General of Accounts, Ministry of Finance, March 2018-19, http://www.cga.nic.in/MonthlyReport/Published/3/2018-2019.aspx.

The Budget: What happens next and some stats on what happened before

Authored by Vishnu Padmanabhan and Priya Soman The Budget speech may have already been scrutinised and the numbers analysed but the Budget process is far from complete.  The Constitution requires expenditure from the government’s Consolidated Fund of India to be approved by the Lok Sabha (the Rajya Sabha does not vote, but can suggest changes). After the Finance Minister presents the Union Budget, Parliament holds a general discussion followed by a detailed discussion and vote on Demands for Grants. In the general discussion, the House discusses the Budget as a whole but no motions can be moved and no voting takes place.  In the 15th Lok Sabha, the average time spent during the Budget Session on general discussion has been 13 hours 20 minutes so far. Following the general discussion, Parliament breaks for recess while Demands for Grants – the projected expenditure by different ministries - are examined by the relevant Standing Committees of Parliament. This year Parliament is scheduled to break for a month from March 22nd to April 22nd. After the break, the Standing Committees table their reports; the grants are discussed in detail and voted on.  Last year, the total time spent on the Union Budget, on both general and detailed discussion was around 32 hours (or 18% of total time in the session), largely in line with the average time spent over the last 10 years (33 hours, 20% of total time). A unique feature of Indian democracy is the separate presentation and discussion for the Railway Budget.  Including the Railway Budget the overall time spent on budget discussion last year was around 55 hours (30% of total time in the session).

Note: All data from Budget sessions; data from 2004 and 2009 include interim budget sessions. Source: Lok Sabha Resume of Work, PRS

 

During the detailed discussion, MPs can call for ‘cut motions’ to reduce the amounts of demands for grants made by a Ministry. This motion can be tabled in three ways: (i) ‘the amount of the demand be reduced to Re.1/’ signifying disapproval of the policies of that ministry; (ii)  ‘the amount of the demand be reduced by a specified amount’, an economy cut signifying a disapproval of the amount spent by the ministry  and (iii) ‘the amount of the demand be reduced by Rs.100/-', a token cut airing a specific grievance within the policy of the government. However in practice almost all demands for grants are clubbed and voted together (a process called guillotining). In 2012, 92% of demands for grants were guillotined. The grants for Ministries of Commerce and Industry, Health and Family Welfare, Home Affairs and Urban Development were the only grants taken up for discussion. Over the last 10 years, 85% of demands for grants have been voted for without discussion. The most frequently discussed demand for grants come from the Ministry of Home Affairs (discussed in 6 of the last 10 sessions) and the Ministry of Rural Development (5 times).  Demand for grants for Defence, the largest spending Ministry, has only been voted after discussion once in the last 10 years.

Source: Lok Sabha Resume of Work, Union Budget documents, PRS

 

If the government needs to spend any additional money, it can introduce Supplementary Demands for Grants during the year.  However if after the financial year government spending on a service exceeds the amount granted, then an Excess Demand for Grant has to be introduced and passed in the following year.  The Budget process concludes with the introduction and passage of the Appropriation Bill authorising the government to spend money from the Consolidated Fund of India. In addition, a Finance Bill, containing the taxation proposals of the government is considered and passed by the Lok Sabha after the Demands for Grants have been voted upon.

Parliament's scrutiny over government finances

The recent 2G-controversy and the related debate over the role of the PAC as opposed to the JPC also raises a broader Issue regarding the general scrutiny of government finances by Parliament.  Oversight of the government’s finances involves the scrutiny of the government’s financial proposals and policies.  The Indian Constitution vests this power with the Parliament by providing that (a) taxes cannot be imposed or collected without the authority of law, and (b) expenditure cannot be incurred without the authorisation of the legislature. The Indian Parliament exercises financial oversight over the government budget in two stages: (1) at the time of presentation of the annual budget, and (2) reviewing the government’s budget implementation efforts through the year. The Parliament scrutinises the annual budget (a) on the floor of the House, and (b) by the departmentally related standing committees. Scrutiny on the floor of the House The main scrutiny of the budget in the Lok Sabha takes place through: (a) General discussion and voting: The general discussion on the Budget is held on a day subsequent to the presentation of the Budget by the Finance Minister.  Discussion at this stage is confined to the general examination of the Budget and policies of taxation expressed during the budget speech. (b) Discussion on Demand for Grants: The general discussion is followed by a discussion on the Demand for Grants of different ministries. A certain number of days or hours are allocated for the discussion of all the demands. However, not all the demands are discussed within the allotted number of days. The remaining undiscussed demands are disposed of by the Speaker after the agreement of the House.  This process is known as the ‘Guillotine’.  Figure 1 shows the number of Demands discussed and guillotined over the last five years.  It shows that nearly 90% of the Demands are not discussed every year. Some Important Budget Documents Annual Financial Statement – Statement of the estimated receipts and expenditure of the government. Demand for Grants –Expenditure required to be voted by the Lok Sabha.  A separate Demand is required to be presented for each department of the government. Supplementary Demand for Grants – Presented when (a) authorized amounts are insufficient, or (b) need for additional expenditure has arisen. Finance Bill – Details the imposition of taxes, the rates of taxation, and its regulation. Detailed Demand for Grants – Prepared on the basis of the Demand for Grants.  These show further break-up of objects by expenditure, and also actual expenditure in the previous year. For more details see detailed note on Financial Oversight by Parliament here.

Parliament: What happens during the recess

Parliament is set to go into recess this week and will convene again on April 12th.  Before going into recess, both houses will have completed general discussions on the budget. Once the recess begins, it’s time to go beyond the big budget numbers and into greater detail.   The detailed estimates by various ministries (sometimes running into a few hundred pages), of their budgeted expenditures in the next financial year (April 2010-March 2011) will be examined by the various Parliamentary Standing Committees. When Parliament reconvenes, the Committees will table their reports on these demands for grants and the Lok Sabha will then begin more detailed discussions.  Due to lack of time however, such detailed discussions take place only for 3-4 ministries – the rest are voted on without discussion. For a more detailed overview of the entire budget process, see our document “The Union Budget – A Primer” For an overview of the budget documents, as well as a guide to finding the information that you want, see “How to Read the Union Budget”

The Union Budget

The budget process is covered by live TV and extensively by most newspapers each year.  Most large companies have their own analysis of the budget.  Increasingly, there is an effort by civil society groups to analyse the budget to decipher the allocations to the social sector.  All of this is hugely important and indeed necessary for greater scrutiny and analysis by citizens across the country.

But we at PRS have often spoken about the role of Parliament in effectively scrutinising the government.  If there is anything that the Parliament must scrutinise carefully each year, it is the budget – because this is the way in which the government expresses its real priorities.  Even if the Parliament passes Bills on any subject – right to education, right to health, right to food, etc. – a good measure of the true willingness of the government to implement any of this can be seen by how much money it is willing to allocate to make things a reality.

Former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha spoke about the budget process (Times of India, Feb 27th) and has argued that the current process in India is archaic and is in urgent need of an overhaul.  He also points that Parliament has little power to change anything in the budget, and argues that this undermines the principles of our Parliamentary democracy.  We agree.

On our part, we have produced two documents to help readers understand the budget process better.  How to read the union budget and the Union Budget process can both be accessed from our website.  And we would greatly appreciate your comments on this and other posts on our blog.