Finance minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said the fiscal deficit for 2012-13 will be better than 5.2 percent as tax-collection target of over Rs 10.38 lakh crore has been achieved.
"As always there will be some savings (on expenditure) So what does it mean ... if we reach the revenue target an if there are some savings, the fiscal deficit will be bette than 5.2 percent that I have projected," Chidambaram said. He, however, did not "hazard a guess" on the actual fiscal deficit number for 2012-13.
On revenue collections, Chidambaram said while there wa a slippage on direct taxes front, the indirect tax mop up has exceeded the revised estimates. "The indirect-tax collection was excess over the target. In direct taxes, there was a shortfall. But overall, we have achieved the target of over Rs 10.38 lakh crore," he said, adding that the revenue growth in 2012-13 was 16.7 percent.
He said this revenue growth is "commendable" in the "difficult year" of 2012-13 when the economic growth is expected to be 5 per cent or a shade above it. The revised estimates was to collect over Rs 5.65 lakh crore from direct taxes and Rs 4.69 lakh crore from indirect taxes.
Total expenditure was pegged at Rs 14.30 lakh crore. With savings in expenditure, the fiscal deficit is expected to be lower than 5.2 percent as projected in revised estimates. As per government's fiscal consolidation road map, the gap between revenue and expenditure is to be brought down to 4.8 percent by 2013-14 and 3 percent by 2016-17.
The finance minister also exuded confidence that the revenue target for 2013-14 financial year would be achieved as the GDP growth is likely to be over 6 percent.
"Revenue target of 2013-14 is achievable ... because we believe GDP will grow by 6 per cent or above 6 percent," he said. When asked about the results of the over one lakh letters sent by income-tax department to non-filers, Chidambaram said he was happy that the approach was paying dividends.
"I think our non-adversarial and tax-payer friendly approach is paying off. These very kind and loving letters are paying off and people are filing returns. I am telling my officers this is the approach to take ... Tell them (non-filer or stop filers) we have the information about you, why don't you file your return. It is paying dividend," a smiling finance minister said.
Detailing the results of I-T letters, he said the number of e-returns filed in 2012-13 have increased by over 50 lakh to more than 2.14 crore against the previous fiscal. To a query on the record high current account deficit
(CAD) in the October-December quarter of 2012-13, he said the final numbers for the financial year would be more tolerable.
He further said exports would have to be increased and unnecessary imports needs to the curbed to bring down the CAD. The CAD, which reflects the gap between outflow and inflow of foreign currency, touched a historic high of 6.7 percent in the third quarter on account of higher imports of oil and gold and slowdown in exports.
"The fourth quarter data, whatever RBI has been able to capture, will be much smaller and number for the whole year will be more acceptable, more tolerable. If you are surprised by the largeness of the third quarter data, perhaps you will be surprised by the smallness of the annual figure," he said. He further said gold imports are taking place because of inflation. "We have to contain inflation," Chidambaram said.
Asked about Vodafone tax dispute, he said the amendments to the I-T Act would be moved in Parliament after a way to resolve the issue is found. He said it is unlikely that the amendments would be moved in the ongoing Budget Session. The British telecom major, facing a Rs 11,200-crore tax demand, has sought conciliation with the Indian government.
"The Union Cabinet will take a final decision whether to go for conciliation," he said.