ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Calcutta Diary

Calcutta Diary AM IT is an unsavoury story, but it has major implications, and deserves to be told in full.
The deficit in the union budget for 1985-86, as set out in the original proposals, was to the extent of Rs 3,316 crore. In the revised estimates for 1985-86, presented last year along with the union budget for 1986-87, this deficit was shown as being of the order of Rs 4,490 crore. In the final accounts, presented on February 28 last along with the budget for 1987-88, the actual deficit for 1985-86, we are informed, has climbed to Rs 4,937 crore, A little sleight of the hand, with the hope that none or few will notice. The true deficit in 1985-86 was in fact higher by a further sum of Rs 1,627 crore; in the final accounts, it should have been recorded at Rs 6,564 crore. A demure footnote, first introduced at the time of the presentation of the budget last year, has been repeated this year. The estimated deficit for 1985-86, the footnote confesses in small print, excludes the medium-term loans totalling Rs 1,627 crore advanced to the state governments during the year. With this amount pushed out of the picture, the deficit in 1985-86 can be shown at less than Rs 5,000 crore. Include it, and the deficit soars to roughly double of what was originally budgeted. The government, obviously, is suffering from a guilt complex, and would take recourse to just any subterfuge so as to be able to put across the impression that the fiscal deficit has not been attaining frightening magnitudes in recent years.

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