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Govt’s vaccine spends set to scale 50,000cr


NEW DELHI: The Centre’s vaccine spend is set to top Rs 50,000 crore, significantly higher than the budget estimate of Rs 35,000 crore, but is unlikely to put pressure on government finances. The numbers are based on current trends and do not factor in the possibility of vaccinating the population under 18 years, which is expected to start later in the financial year. While the revenue position is currently healthy, government sources said the Centre is looking to tap special windows from multilateral agencies such as ADB to raise around $2 billion at concessional rates, joining others such as China and Indonesia. This, officials said, will ensure that there is no pressure on market borrowings, leaving enough room for the private sector to raise funds. Although the market is looking at the tax numbers, prompting many analysts to conclude that the fiscal deficit numbers may be better than the estimated 6.8% of GDP, sources said, the government had also committed higher spending in several areas, for which additional funds will be required. Latest data released by the controller general of accounts on Friday pegged the Centre’s fiscal deficit at Rs 5.3 lakh crore during the first half of the current financial year, which was 35% of its full year budget target as robust tax revenues helped keep government finances in much better shape. At the end of September 2020, fiscal deficit was estimated 114.8% of the estimate. This was perhaps the best fiscal outcome in the first half of 2021-22 in about 20 years, aided largely by healthy revenues and efficient spending management. Acceleration in economic activity after lifting of curbs helped revenues recover and keep the fiscal situation in a better shape. Receipts from excise duty were up 79% compared to the same period last year, largely due to the increase in global crude oil prices and the higher local taxes on fuel. Tax revenues reached 59.6% of full year budget estimates, higher than the 28% growth in the previous fiscal year.


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