Fiscal Deficit of the Public Sector in India: Issues on Data Reliability, Accounting Flaws and Missing VariablesAuthor : K. A. Aneesh
Volume 8 No.1 Special Issue:February 2019 pp 13-19
Fiscal deficit, one of the widely acclaimed and internationally accepted measures of fiscal imbalance, is faced with a lot of conceptual and accounting issues in India. The definition of deficit has been changing and therefore there is no consistency in the official series of deficits published by the government of India. Since 1991, budgets were being framed in the context of the New Economic Policies (NEP) consisting of the Stabilization Policies and the Structural Adjustment Policies (SAP). While, the fiscal austerity in the form of expenditure reduction and revenue enhancement as a corollary to NEP has hardly worked out in India. However, the Central government has undertaken several measures to show a reduced fiscal deficit in India. One of the ways practiced was to implement some changes in the accounting practices over the years. This was by including some additional elements in the definition of deficit and excluding some other items. The second practice was to transfer the deficit of the Centre to other layers of the government. In a broad fiscal policy regime framework following Prof. Arun Kumar’s modified National Income Identity (1988), a total government or public sector comprising of the Centre, State/UTs and local-self-governments as well as the Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) at the Centre and State levels. The problem of deficit shifting can be automatically avoided by taking the whole public sector into the analysis, which makes the empirical results on interrelationship between fiscal deficit and various macroeconomic variables more realistic and convincing. Still, there is a paucity of white economy data, because of the existence of substantial black economy in India. Its non-inclusion in analysis results in a partial understanding of the economy and often incorrect policy pronouncements. The need to incorporate the black economy is not simply an empirical matter, but a theoretical necessity. This paper in general tries to bring the aforementioned issues on data reliability, accounting flaws and missing variables into the discussion and attempt to correct the fudges in the official deficit series published by the government and also tries construct a compiled series of deficit for the public sector in India. The empirical section of the paper explains the significance of black economy as a variable to be included in the analysis to get better understanding of the economy.
Fiscal deficit, Public sector in India, Fiscal policy regime, National income identity, Black economy
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