Government May Fund $ 28 Billion Expense Via Off-Budget Lending: Report

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Government May Fund $ 28 Billion Expense Via Off-Budget Lending: Report

New Delhi: The government is likely to fund roughly $ 28 billion of its proposed outlay in its upcoming budget for the fiscal year 2020/21 via off-budget borrowings, said three government sources directly aware of the matter, as it seeks to revive a sagging economy while keeping its fiscal deficit in check.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is under pressure to increase spending on rural welfare schemes and infrastructure to boost economic growth that has fallen for six straight quarters.

Off-budget borrowings are a means by which the government keeps its fiscal deficit in check by making quasi-government entities borrow on its behalf, to partly fund its preliminary plan for the year.

This would mark a roughly 13.8 percent increase in so-called off-budget borrowings from an estimated Rs 1.75 lakh crore ($ 24.6 billion) in the ongoing fiscal year, said the three sources, who asked not to be named as the discussions are private.

“We’re facing a serious economic crisis,” said one of the sources, adding there was no alternative but to raise spending on infrastructure and welfare schemes to boost consumer demand and create jobs.

“You should not be surprised if the actual deficit touches 4.5 percent of GDP,” he said, adding that the ‘official’ deficit could be kept between 3.5 percent and 4 percent of GDP.

“After the initial denial of the economic downturn,” he said the government felt that all possible steps needed to be taken to support economic growth.

A finance ministry spokesman declined to comment, citing a silent period before the budget speech on 1 February.

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