The government's fiscal deficit for the first 11 months of 2022-23 widened to Rs 14.54 lakh crore, according to the Controller General of Accounts.
At Rs 14.54 lakh crore, the fiscal deficit for April 2022-February 2023 accounted for 82.8 percent of the full-year target for 2022-23. Fiscal deficit in the first 11 months of the last financial year was 82.7 percent of that year's target.
The Centre made an upward revision in its fiscal deficit target for 2022-23 in the 2023 Budget to Rs 17.55 lakh crore from Rs 16.61 lakh crore. However, with the size of India's economy this year set to exceed the Budget estimate, the fiscal deficit as a percentage of GDP is seen unchanged from the initial target of 6.4 percent.
While the Centre is on track to meet its fiscal deficit target of 6.4 percent of GDP for 2022-23, the developments in its finances in February were not all rosy.
On the receipts side, gross tax revenues were up by 12 percent in April-February, although the growth exhibited in February was just 4.5 percent.
"Gross tax revenues need to grow by 14 percent on a year-on-year basis in March to meet the FY23 Revised Estimate, including a 32 percent expansion in corporation tax, which seems somewhat optimistic," pointed out Aditi Nayar, ICRA's chief economist.
Total receipts were up 11.6 percent in April-February.
On the expenditure front, total spending was 11.1 percent higher in April-February, but down 2.6 percent in February.
Worryingly, the fall in the Centre's expenditure in February was down to capital expenditure, which was a mere Rs 20,335 crore last month as against Rs 43,495 crore in February 2022.
At Rs 20,335 crore, the Centre's capital expenditure in February is the lowest since it spent Rs 16,932 crore in July 2021.
For the Centre to meet its full-year capex target of Rs 7.28 lakh crore, it should have spent Rs 1.38 lakh crore this month.
On the whole, the fiscal deficit in February was Rs 2.63 lakh crore, 30.5 percent lower than in February 2022.