Fiscal worries: Govt to focus on priority schemes
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Last Updated: Thursday, October 29, 2009, 17:29
New Delhi: Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday asked the financial advisors of different ministries to focus on the government's priority sector schemes and ensure that public expenditure remains within the budgetary limits in order to contain fiscal deficit.

"He has ... (asked) us that we should be careful and ensure that we spend on the priority sector rather than spending on the non-priority sector. That's the message", Sutanu Behuria, additional secretary and financial advisor in the Ministry of Commerce and Textiles told reporters after the meeting of financial advisors with Mukherjee.

The minister also underlined the need to keep public expenditure within the limits approved in the budget, he said, adding, the exercise is aimed at checking government borrowings and containing the fiscal deficit.

The government has pegged the fiscal deficit in the current year at 6.8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), up from 6.2 percent in 2008-09.

The government would hold a review of the public expenditure in November, he said, adding "our job as financial advisor is to control expenditure."

"The focus of the meeting was to keep the fiscal deficit in control," said Dipali Khanna, additional secretary and financial advisor in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

Mukherjee, she added, also asked the advisors to prioritise expenditure and concentrate on critical areas and make sure that expenditure is in control.

On additional demands from various ministries, Behuria said the detailed exercise of looking into them would start in November and that all departments have sent their proposals.

"They will have individual meetings with the Expenditure Secretary which is going to start very soon," he said, adding the meetings would not only look at the revised estimates but also at the next year's budget.

He said, the final view would be taken once the detailed exercises begin between the departments, their secretaries and ministers and the expenditure secretary, based on what the departments want to priorities.

Though today's meet, precursor to the November meeting, was called to cut down on non-priority spending on rising concerns of fiscal deficit, the government seemed committed to continue supporting the economy with its planned spending.

"He (FM) is concerned that we should not have to resort to further borrowings, that we should keep expenditure under control but at the same time not compromise on development," Behuria said.

"Priorities well ... (spend on sectors) which has the maximum impact but try and stay within the budget," he said quoting Pranab Mukherjee.

Bureau Report

First Published: Thursday, October 29, 2009, 17:29

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