Finance ministry purple flags extending free meals scheme

The finance ministry’s Division of Expenditure has argued towards extending the free meals ration scheme past September or making any main tax cuts, warning of penalties for the federal government’s fiscal place. The federal government in March prolonged the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY) for six months to September.

The federal government has budgeted ₹2.07 lakh crore for meals subsidies in FY23, decrease than the revised ₹2.86 lakh crore for FY22. The PMGKAY extension until September is predicted to swell the subsidy invoice to about ₹2.87 lakh crore. Extending the scheme by an extra six months might price one other ₹80,000 crore in FY23, lifting the meals subsidy to just about ₹3.7 lakh crore.

Any additional tax cuts or meals subsidy extensions might have antagonistic penalties for the fiscal math, the division mentioned in an inside notice seen by ET. “Specifically, it’s not advisable to proceed the PMGKAY past its current extension, each on grounds of meals safety and on fiscal grounds,” the division mentioned.

The notice mentioned latest choices such because the free ration extension, improve in fertiliser subsidy, re-introduction of subsidy on cooking gasoline, discount of excise responsibility on petrol and diesel and lower in customs responsibility on edible oils and numerous inputs have created a critical fiscal scenario. Final month’s discount in excise responsibility on petrol and diesel to dampen inflationary pressures is predicted to trigger a income lack of about Rs 1 lakh crore.


The federal government has budgeted a fiscal deficit of 6.4% of GDP for FY23. Fitch Scores expects it to be 6.8% of GDP due to greater subsidies and lack of income resulting from responsibility cuts. In its month-to-month financial overview for Might launched on Tuesday, the finance ministry’s Division of Financial Affairs mentioned rationalising income expenditure has grow to be essential for shielding growth-supportive capital expenditure but in addition for avoiding fiscal slippage, warning {that a} greater fiscal deficit might widen the present account deficit.

PMGKAY Rolled out Throughout Lockdown

The PMGKAY is a free meals grain scheme that was rolled out by the federal government throughout the first nationwide lockdown imposed to include Covid-19 in March 2020. Below the scheme, 5 kg of free rice or wheat and 1 kg of complete chana are offered per particular person monthly to over 810 million folks along with the subsidised ration already offered underneath the Nationwide Meals Safety Act.

The division identified that, aside from fiscal concerns, the transfer was additionally not advisable from the nation’s meals safety perspective.

An eligible household of 5 will get over 50 kg of grain – 25 kg at a nominal value of ₹2 or 3, and 25 kg free. This exceeds the requirement when there is not any pandemic, the notice mentioned.

“It is important that main subsidy will increase/tax reductions should not finished,” the expenditure division mentioned in its notice.

Responsibility Cuts

On Might 21, the Centre introduced a discount of excise duties on petrol and diesel by ₹8 and ₹6 per litre to curb inflation, and a subsidy of ₹200 per gasoline cylinder for as much as 12 cylinders to about 90 million beneficiaries of the Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana. Later within the month, responsibility was lower on edible oil. The finance ministry estimates a income lack of over ₹1 lakh crore resulting from these measures for the present fiscal 12 months. The fertiliser subsidy invoice is estimated at ₹2.15 lakh crore towards the funds provision of ₹1.05 lakh crore in FY23.

Consultants have warned that the fertiliser subsidy invoice could go up even additional if international costs proceed to rise resulting from geopolitical elements.

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