Trends in Fiscal Policy of India

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TRENDS IN FISCAL POLICY OF INDIA

ABSTRACT
This essay traces the major developments in India’s fiscal policy from the early stages of planned development in the 1950s, through the country’s balance of payments crisis of 1991, the subsequent economic liberalisation and rapid growth phase, the response to the global financial crisis of 2008 and the recent post-crisis moves to return to a path of fiscal consolidation. The initial years of India’s planned Development strategy were characterised by a conservative fiscal policy whereby deficits were kept under control. The tax system was geared to transfer resources from the private sector to fund the large public sector driven industrialization process and also cover social welfare schemes. However, growth was anaemic and the system was prone to inefficiencies. In the 1980s some attempts were made to reform particular sectors. But the public debt increased, as did the fiscal deficit. India’s balance of payments crisis of 1991 led to economic liberalisation. The reform of the tax system commenced. The fiscal deficit was brought under control. When the deficit and debt situation again threatened to go out of control in the early 2000s, fiscal discipline legalisations were instituted. The deficit was brought under control and by 2007-08 a benign macro-fiscal situation with high growth and moderate inflation prevailed. During the global financial crisis fiscal policy responded with counter-cyclical measures including tax cuts and increases in expenditures. The post-crisis recovery of the Indian economy is witnessing a correction of the fiscal policy path towards a regime of prudence. In the future, the focus would probably be on bringing in new tax reforms and better targeting of social expenditures.

INTRODUCTION

Fiscal policy is the means by which a government adjusts its levels of spending in order to monitor and influence a nation's economy. It is the sister strategy to monetary policy with which a central bank influences a nation's money supply. These two policies are used in various combinations in an effort to direct a country's economic goals. Here we take a look at how fiscal policy works, how it must be monitored and how its implementation may affect different people in an economy. Fiscal policy deals with the taxation and expenditure decisions of the government.Monetary policy, deals with the supply of money in the economy and the rate of interest.These are the main policy approaches used by economic managers to steer the broad aspects of the economy. In most modern economies, the government deals with fiscal policy while the central bank is responsible for monetary policy. Fiscal policy is composed of several parts. These include, tax policy, expenditure policy, investment or disinvestment strategies and debt or surplus management. Fiscal policy is an important constituent of the overall economic framework of a country and is therefore intimately linked with its general economic policy strategy. For example, if taxes were to increase, consumers would have less disposable income and in turn would have less money to spend on goods and services. This difference in disposable income would go to the government instead of going to consumers, who would pass the money onto companies. Or, the government could choose to increase government spending by directly purchasing goods and services from private companies. This would increase the flow of money through the economy and would eventually increase the disposable income available to consumers. Unfortunately, this process takes time, as the money needs to wind its way through the economy, creating a significant lag between the implementation of fiscal policy and its effect on the economy.

In broad term fiscal policy refers to "that segment of national economic policy which is...
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