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The ‘Missing’ Rs 1.7 Lakh Crore in Budget 2019. What’s the Row?

The gap in the data was pointed out by Rathin Roy, a member of the Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council.

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Less than a week after Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget, a data anomaly related to the document is in the news. What more? The anomaly amounts to as much as Rs 1.7 lakh crore.

Here is a lowdown on what the issue is all about.

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WHAT’S THE ANOMALY?

The gap in the data was pointed out by Rathin Roy, who is no less, but a member of the Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council.

In an article in the Business Standard, he showed that the revenue estimate numbers for the financial year 2018-19 furnished by the government in the Economic Survey and the Union Budget are different.

Moreover, the difference is not a marginal one, but that of one percentage point, that amounts to Rs 1.7 lakh crore.

WHAT’S REVENUE ESTIMATE AND WHAT ARE THE NUMBERS?

To put in simple terms, revenue estimate is the amount of money the government has earned in a financial year.

Now, the budget 2018-19 document suggests that the government earned Rs 17.3 lakh crore in 2018-19, while in the Economic Survey, the number is pegged at Rs 15.6 lakh crore.

In percentage terms too, the budget puts revenue estimates at 9.2 percent of the GDP, while in the Economic Survey, it is pegged at 8.2 percent.
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IS THAT ALL?

Well, no. The discrepancy in the revenue earned spills over to the government's spending too, simply because otherwise the balance sheet will not be...well, balanced.

Spending was shown in the budget at Rs 24.6 lakh crore in 2018-19, while the Economic Survey shows that the government only spent about Rs 23.1 lakh crore – a difference of Rs 1.5 lakh crore.

Fine print of the Economic Survey and the Union Budget suggests that the anomaly in the revenues crept in because of difference in numbers in the two documents – as far as tax revenue is concerned.

According to the budget, it was expected that the government would earn about Rs 14.8 lakh crore from taxes last year. But the Economic Survey's figures suggest that it earned about Rs 13.2 lakh crore.

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