The government's budget exercise is no different from the way households manage their finances. But those big words finance ministers read out in their budget speeches tend to sound intimidating. ET simplifies key concepts and jargon for you:
1) Government Revenues & Spending...
Government's budget is largely about revenues and expenditure. These are divided under two heads: revenue and capital. Spending is also split into plan and non-plan.
Revenue receipt/expenditure: All receipts, such as taxes, and expenditure, like salaries, subsidies and interest payments that in general do not entail sale or creation of assets, fall under the revenue account.
Capital receipt/expenditure: Capital account shows all receipts from liquidating (e.g., selling shares in a public sector company) assets and spending to create assets (e.g., lending to receive interest).
Revenue/captial budget: The government has to prepare a Revenue Budget (detailing revenue receipts & revenue expenditure) and a Capital Budget (capital receipts and capital expenditure).
Gross tax revenue: The total tax received by the government from which it has to pay the states their share as mandated by the relevant finance commission. The balance is available to the Union government.
Non-tax revenue: The main receipts under this head are interest on loans given by the government, and dividends and profits received from PSUs. The government also earns from various services, including public services, it provides. Of this, only the Railways is a separate department, though all its receipts and expenditure are routed through the Consolidated Fund of India.
Capital receipts: These include recoveries of loans and advances.
Miscellaneous capital receipts: These are primarily receipts from PSU disinvestment.
Before we understand government spending, it is important to know the concept of plan and non-plan spending and the Central Plan
Gross budgetary support: The Five-Year Plans are split into five annual plans. The funding of the Plan is split almost evenly between government support (from the budget) and internal and extra-budgetary resources of state-owned enterprises. The government's support to the Plan, which includes state plans, is called Gross Budgetary Support.
Plan expenditure: This is essentially the budget support to the annual plans. This is typically considered developmental spending (on health, education, infrastructure and social goals). Like all budget heads, it is also split into revenue and capital components.
Non-plan expenditure: This is in the nature of consumption expenditure, broadly corresponding to revenue expenditure: interest payments, subsidies, salaries, defence & pensions. Its 'capital' component is small, the largest chunk being defence.
2) ...And The Shortfall
When government's expenditure exceeds its receipts, it has to borrow to meet the shortfall. This deficit has material implication for the economy as bridging it increases public debt and eats up revenues through higher interest payments.
Public debt: The money borrowed by the government is eventually a burden on the people of India, and is, therefore, called public debt. It is split into two heads: internal debt (money borrowed within the country) and external debt (funds borrowed from non-Indian sources).
Fiscal deficit: The money borrowed by the government is eventually a burden on the people of India, and is, therefore, called public debt. It is split into two heads: internal debt (money borrowed within the country) and external debt (funds borrowed from non-Indian sources). Usually the government spends more than what it earns through various sources. This shortfall, which is met with borrowed funds, is called fiscal deficit. Technically, it is the excess of government expenditure over 'non-borrowed receipts' â€” revenue receipts plus loan repayments received by the govt plus miscellaneous capital receipts.
Revenue Deficit: It is the excess of revenue expenditure over revenue receipts. All expenditure on revenue account should ideally be met from receipts on revenue account; the revenue deficit should be zero. In such a situation, the government borrowing will not be for consumption but for creation of assets.
Effective revenue deficit: This is an even tighter number than the revenue deficit. It is revenue deficit less grants for creation of capital assets.
Primary deficit: It is the fiscal deficit less interest payments made by the government on its earlier borrowings.
Deficit and GDP: Apart from the numbers in rupees, the budget document also mentions deficit as a percentage of GDP. This is because in absolute terms, the fiscal deficit may be large, but if it is small compared to the size of the economy, then it's not such a bad thing, especially if it is being used to create production capacities.
FRBM ACT: The Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act was enacted in 2003 and required the elimination of revenue deficit and reduction of fiscal deficit to 3% of GDP. The financial crisis and the subsequent slowdown had forced the government to abandon the path of fiscal consolidation for a while. A new fiscal consolidation road map is likely to be announced this year.
Ways and means advances: When state governments or the centre face temporary mismatches then the RBI helps them manage these through temporary advances called ways and means advances.
Securities against small savings: The govt meets a small part of its loan requirement by appropriating small-savings collection by issuing securities to the fund.
Treasury bills (T-bills): These are bonds (debt securities) with maturity of less than a year. These are issued to meet short-term mismatches in receipts and expenditure. Bonds of longer maturity are called dated securities.
3) How The Govt Taxes You
The central government imposes many taxes, but they can be divided into two broad categories: Direct Tax and Indirect Tax
This is the tax that business, companies , firms and partnerships and we all pay from our income or wealth. It is called direct tax because the person who pays the tax has to also bear the burden of the tax.
Corporation (corporate) tax: It is the tax that India Inc pays on its profits. It is the single biggest source of tax for govt.
Taxes on income other than corporation tax: It's income-tax paid by 'non-corporate assesses' such as individuals and Hindu undivided family (HUF).
Securities transaction tax (STT): STT is the small tax you need to pay on the total amount you pay or receive when you buy or sell shares on stock exchanges or transact in mutual funds. This is in the nature of a transaction tax.
Wealth tax: This is the tax individuals pay on
their accumulated wealth. It is levied on individuals, HUFs and companies at
the rate of 1% on the amount by which the net wealth exceeds Rs 30 lakh.
Capital gains tax: It is the tax levied on profit or gain made on sale of a capital asset such as shares, house, commercial property. Long-term capital gains tax is levied at 10% & short term at the marginal income-tax rate of an assesse.
Dividend distribution tax (DDT): Dividends are tax free in the hands of investors but the entity distributing dividends to investors pays DDT to govt.
Minimum alternate tax (MAT): It is often the case that companies report profits but pay no tax. Such cos have to pay a certain minimum tax on their book profits.
Withholding tax: This is a small tax deducted whenever a payment is made that is like an income for the receiver such as dividends, interest, royalty or even capital gains.
It's essentially a tax on our expenditure, and includes customs, excise and service tax. It is called indirect tax because the tax is paid to the government by the person selling the good or providing service but its final burden is on the consumer. It is considered a 'regressive' tax as the burden is equal whether you're rich or poor.
Customs: Anything purchased from another country and brought into India is subject to this tax. It serves a twin purpose, yielding revenues for the government and protecting Indian industry.
Union excise duty: This is a duty imposed on goods manufactured in the country.
Service tax: It is a tax on services rendered.
GST: A proposed single tax that will replace the plethora of indirect taxes. This will make tax administration effective, compliance easy and evasion difficult. Consumers will benefit from the decline in the incidence of tax.
4) Reading The Balance Sheet
Govt prepares its accounts on a cash basis as opposed to accrual basis by companies.
Annual financial statement: This document details the govt's receipts and expenditure for the financial year. This 16-page document is actually the annual budget, as stated in the Constitution. It is divided into three parts â€” Consolidated Fund, Contingency Fund and Public Account â€” each of which provides a statement of receipts and expenditure. Expenditure from the Consolidated Fund and Contingency Fund requires the nod of Parliament.
This document details the govt's receipts and expenditure for the financial year. This 16-page document is actually the annual budget, as stated in the Constitution. It is divided into three parts â€” Consolidated Fund, Contingency Fund and Public Account â€” each of which provides a statement of receipts and expenditure. Expenditure from the Consolidated Fund and Contingency Fund requires the nod of Parliament.
Finance bill: For most of us, this is the all
important budget document. All tax measures are included in it. The memorandum,
another document, explains the provisions of the Bill in simple terms.
Contingency fund: As the name suggests, any urgent or unforeseen expenditure is met from this Rs 500 crore fund, which is at the disposal of the President. The amount withdrawn is returned from the Consolidated Fund.
Public account: This is an account where the government acts more like a banker, as this is a collection of money belonging to others such as public provident fund.
5) The Social Agenda
This is a co-contributory scheme to promote voluntary retirement savings towards pensions. The government makes a contribution to NPS account of unorganized sector workers.
It is a 12-digit individual identifi cation number that serves as a proof of identity and address, anywhere in India.
Bharat Nirman is UPA's ambitious plan to build infrastructure in rural India: Irrigation, roads, water supply, housing, rural electrifi cation and rural telecom connectivity.
Food security act
The govt plans to provide highly subsidised foodgrain to majority of the population. It is expected to be rolled out in the next fi scal.
This is a government campaign to extend banking facilities through business correspondents to habitations having population in excess of 2,000.
Direct cash transfer of benefits
It is a poverty alleviation initiative under which welfare benefits are given directly to the poor in cash (in their bank accounts) rather than in the form of subsidies.
6) & Some More...
Direct taxes code (DTC) Bill
This is a comprehensive revamp of the income tax law that has been in the works for many years.
This is like a discount with reference to taxes. Abatement is given when the tax is not levied on full amount but on a portion of the transaction.
Resources transferred to the states
The Centre gives funds to states in two ways: a share in taxes and budget support for their plans. These are largely in the nature of grants, and include those given to states for managing Centrally-sponsored schemes.
The process of sale of government shares in state-owned entities.
Qualified foreign investors
Foreign individuals, groups or associations that are eligible to invest directly in India. They must be from countries that follow global anti-money laundering rules.
Financial support to a public-private partnership (PPP) infrastructure project to make it viable for the private-sector investor.