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Jaswant to seek funds for first quarter

P Vaidyanathan Iyer in New Delhi | January 22, 2004 08:42 IST

Finance Minister Jaswant Singh will present a vote-on-account for the first four months (April-July) of 2004-05.

His interim Budget speech is unlikely to be long, but will spell out his expectations on the economic front for the year.

Mini-Budget 2004-2005: Complete Coverage

According to finance ministry officials, a detailed plan has been chalked out for the vote-on-account.

Singh will table the interim Budget in the Lok Sabha on February 3 along with the Finance Bill.

Discussions on it are unlikely and the vote-on-account is expected to be passed by the Rajya Sabha the following day.

Singh will take Parliament's approval for government expenditure only for the first four months, but will provide expenditure and revenue projections for the full fiscal.

There will be no additional resource mobilisation measures though the Customs and excise giveaways announced recently will be factored in. Direct tax rates will see no change and the Budget estimates will only assume normal year-on-year growth.

While the Budget estimates for 2004-05 will be irrelevant in an election year, particularly when a full Budget will be presented in the next 3-4 months, the revised estimates for the current fiscal will reveal Singh's performance in containing the fiscal deficit, estimated at 5.6 per cent of the gross domestic product.

The officials described the expenditure situation as comfortable with expected savings in defence, interest payments and Plan expenditure.

"The savings quantum will be the same as in the previous year," an official said. Last year, the government saved over Rs 6,000 crore (Rs 60 billion) on the budgeted expenditure estimates of Rs 410,309 crore (Rs 4,103.09 billion).

The ministry also hopes to exceed the revenue estimates for the current fiscal marginally despite the shortfall in excise collection.

"We will exceed the budget estimates," another official said. While income tax and Customs collection are more or less on target, the buoyancy in corporate tax is expected to make good the shortfall in excise realisation.

Budget-making this year has been restricted to North Block with few meetings between the finance ministry and the Planning Commission.

After taking a hard stance by asking Yojana Bhavan to restrict the Plan size to Rs 100,000 crore (Rs 1,000 billion), the ministry has now settled for a higher Plan size of about Rs 130,000 crore (Rs 1,300 billion), a 7 per cent increase over the Plan outlay for the last fiscal.

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