The traditional ‘Halwa’ ceremony, that takes place ahead of the presentation of the annual February 1 Union budget, will be held on January 26, the ministry of finance said on Wednesday.
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“The Halwa ceremony, marking the final stage of the Budget preparation process for Union Budget 2023-24, will be held for tomorrow in the presence of Union Finance & Corporate Affairs Minister Smt. @nsitharaman, in the Budget Press situated inside North Block,” the ministry said in a tweet.
“Along with the Union FM, the Halwa ceremony will be attended by the Union ministers of State for Finance, along with Secretaries of the Ministry of Finance @FinMinIndia besides senior officials and members of the Union Budget Press,” it added.
What is ‘Halwa’ ceremony?
The ceremony is a ‘send-off’ for ministry officials and staff involved with the preparation of the Union government’s annual financial statement. They enter what is called a ‘lock-in’ period, during which they stay inside the ministry, cut off from their families, to maintain the secrecy around the final budget document.
Also Read | Union budget: How govt prepares annual financial statement?
They leave the North Block, which houses the finance ministry, after the budget is tabled by the finance minister, in Lok Sabha, on February 1.
What happens at ‘Halwa’ ceremony?
The finance minister opens the ceremony by stirring the ‘halwa’ in a kadhai (large metal pot). Last year, however, it was curtailed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the staff were served sweets instead.
Number Theory: What does the Economic Survey tell us about the Budget?
What does the 2022-23 Economic Survey — it was tabled in Parliament on January 31 — tell us about the Union Budget? Here are four things that stand out.
Revenue growth in 2023-24 could slow down with a lower nominal GDP growth
The survey has projected a nominal growth rate of 11% for 2023-24. Real GDP growth, according to the survey, is expected to be in the range of 6-6.8%. The first advanced estimate of GDP, which was released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) earlier this month, put nominal GDP growth in 2022-23 at 15.4%. This means that nominal growth is expected to slow down significantly in the next fiscal. Unless there is a significant increase in tax buoyancy – the change in tax collections per unit change in GDP – growth in tax revenues in 2023-24 will likely be lower than what it was in 2022-23. To be sure, the moderation in nominal growth is more because of a decline in inflation rather than a fall in real GDP growth, which as per survey’s baseline projection is likely to be 6.5% next year.
UNION BUDGET 2023: FULL COVERAGE
The government will likely achieve its fiscal deficit target for 2022-23 and consolidate further in FY24
Last year’s Budget estimated fiscal deficit for 2022-23 at 6.4% of GDP. While the Revised Estimate (RE) for fiscal deficit will presented in tomorrow’s budget (and even RE numbers are liable to changes) the survey does drop a hint that the government will be able to achieve its fiscal deficit target for 2022-23. This, the survey suggests, has happened because of buoyant growth in direct taxes and Goods and Services Tax (GST) and limited revenue expenditure, “which should ensure the full expending of the Capex budget within the budgeted fiscal deficit”.
ALSO READ: After ‘smart recovery’ from Covid, what do MSMEs expect from Budget 2023
Focus on disinvestment and asset monetisation programme will continue
One area where the budget has fallen significantly short of its targets in the recent past is disinvestment. For example, the Budget Estimate (BE) for disinvestment receipts in the 2021-22 Budget was ₹1.75 lakh crore, which was brought down to ₹78,000 crore in the RE numbers for 2021-22. BE numbers for 2022-23 put disinvestment receipts at ₹65,000 crore. While the RE numbers for 2022-23 are likely to be lower than this number, the survey suggests that the government’s disinvestment push is likely to continue. The survey, in fact, has tied disinvestment and the asset monetisation programme of the government to the capex tilt in government spending. “A capex thrust in the last two budgets of the Government of India was not an isolated initiative meant only to address the infrastructure gaps in the country. It was part of a strategic package aimed at crowding-in private investment into an economic landscape broadened by the vacation of non-strategic PSEs (disinvestment) and idling public sector assets”, the survey said.
A big stimulus to mass demand may not be in the offing
Here the survey has said more by way of omission than commission. Chapter two of the survey, which talks about India’s medium-term growth prospects, makes an argument that India is set to leapfrog into a sustained high growth trajectory in 2023-2030 as a result of policy driven reforms during the 2014-2022 period. The growth boom, the survey argues, was delayed because of “balance sheet stress caused by the credit boom in the previous years and secondarily due to the one-off global shocks that followed”. “Once these global shocks of the pandemic and the spike in commodity prices in 2022 fade away, the Indian economy is well placed to grow faster in the coming decade”.
To be sure, it is to be expected that the Economic Survey – it is after all a government document – will paint a comforting picture of the state of the economy. However, this year’s survey has made a larger argument to suggest that the concerns of a K-shaped recovery in the economy where the rich (both firms and households) have done better and emerged as the primary driver of the growth revival, are unfounded. This also means that the government does not see any need to support the aggregate demand of the non-rich, which would entail larger spending on the revenue and not just capital account.
This has in fact been the driving philosophy of the budget in the post-pandemic period, and the survey’s line of argument suggests that it will continue to be the case. While such as approach has helped India’s macroeconomic fundamentals, keeping the fiscal deficit and debt-GDP ratio in check, its exact implications for long-term growth are still to be seen. That India does not have a Consumption Expenditure Survey after 2011-12 has only made this debate more difficult to resolve.
What Economic Survey says about education: Decline in…
Enrolment of students increased in schools across the country in financial year 2022, with an additional 194 million students being enrolled, while at the same time the drop-out rate witnessed a “steady decline”, the economic survey 2022-23 said.
The survey tabled by Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament on Tuesday said financial year 2021-2022 (FY22) witnessed an improvement in the gender parity in school enrolment, growth in basic infrastructure facilities at school level, and a better pupil-teacher ratio in schools.
UNION BUDGET 2023: FULL COVERAGE
According to the survey, 265 million children were enrolled in schools across the country with around 194 million additional children being enrolled in primary to higher secondary levels. Of these 194 million, around 10 million children were enrolled in pre-primary (pre-nursery, nursery and kindergarten), 122 million in primary (classes first to fifth), 67 million in upper primary (classes sixth to eighth), 39 million in secondary (classes 9 and 10) and 29 million in higher secondary classes (classes 11 and 12).
The enrolment has increased at all levels except for pre-primary. “At the pre-primary level, enrolment reduced from 1.1 crore [11 million] in 2021 to 1.0 crore [10 million] in 2022,” said the survey.
Read | What does the Economic Survey tell us about the Budget?
The survey says that the financial year 2021-22 saw an improvement in Gross Enrolment Ratios (GER) in schools across all levels. GER stands for the enrolment in a specific level of education, regardless of age, expressed as a percentage of the eligible official school-age population corresponding to the same level of education in a given school year.
“The GER in the primary enrolment in class I to fifth as a percentage of the population in age 6 to 10 years – for girls as well as boys have improved in FY 22. This improvement has reversed the declining trends between FY17 and FY19,” the survey said.
According to the survey, at the upper primary and primary level, the GER for girls is better than that for boys.
For instance, at the primary level, 104.8% girls and 102.1% boys were enrolled in 2021-22. It recorded an improvement from 2020-21 when 104.5% girls and 102.2% boys were enrolled. Similar trends have been observed at the upper primary level as well. In 2021-22, 94.9 % girls were enrolled as opposed to 94.5% boys. This was 92.7% and 91.6% for girls and boys respectively in 2020-21.
In higher education, the total enrolment increased to nearly 41 million in FY21 from 39 million in FY20. Since FY15, there has been an increase of around 7.2 million in enrolment , approximately by 20%. “The female enrolment has increased to 20 million in FY21 from 19 million in FY20,” said the survey.
The survey highlighted an increase in the GER in higher education as well. “The GER in higher education, based on 2011 population projections (revised), was recorded at 27.3 in FY21, which is an improvement from 25.6 in FY20. The GER for males increased from 24.8 in FY20 to 26.7 in FY21 while GER for females has also shown improvement from 26.4 to 27.9 during the same period,” it said.
The survey highlighted a “steady decline” in school drop out rates at all levels from 14% in 2020-21 to 12.6% in 2021-22. The survey emphasised that government schemes such as Samagra Shiksha, and Right to Education (RTE) Act 2009, improvement in school infrastructure and facilities, residential hostel buildings, availability of teachers, regular training of teachers, free textbooks, uniforms for children, and the PM POSHAN Scheme played the major role in increasing enrollments and retaining students.
It also mentioned that distance education in India also witnessed a 7% increase in enrolment in the financial year 2021-22 from FY20, and 20% increase since FY15.
“Basic facilities in schools continued to improve in FY22 over earlier years except for medical check-ups in schools as the schools remained closed physically in the wake of Covid-19 curbs,” the survey stated.
In terms of school basic facilities, including toilets (girls or boys), drinking water, and hand-washing facilities, and digitisation, the survey showed a significant improvement. For instance, the number of schools having the internet increased to 33.9% in 2021-22 from 24.5% in 2020-21.
Terming Pupil-Teacher Ratio as an indicator which is inversely related to improvement in quality of education, the survey stated that it has improved at all levels continuously between FY13 to FY22. “It has increased from 34.0 to 26.2 at primary, 23.0 to 19.6 at upper primary, 30.0 to 17.6 at secondary, and 39.0 to 27.1 at the higher secondary level. The improvement in the number of schools, teachers’ availability, and facilities in schools is expected to help improve enrolment and reduce dropout rates,” the survey started.
January GST collection at ₹1.55 lakh crore, second highest-ever
PTI | | Posted by Ritu Maria Johny
The GST collection in January surged to over ₹1.55 lakh crore, the second highest-ever mop-up, the finance ministry said on Tuesday.
“The gross GST revenue collected in the month of January 2023 till 5:00 PM on 31.01.2023 is ₹1,55,922 crore of which CGST is ₹28,963 crore, SGST is ₹36,730 crore, IGST is ₹79,599 crore (including ₹37,118 crore collected on import of goods) and cess is ₹10,630 crore (including ₹768 crore collected on import of goods),” the ministry said in a statement.
The revenues in the current financial year up to January 2023 are 24 per cent higher than the GST revenues during the same period last year.
This is for the third time, in the current financial year, GST collection has crossed ₹1.50 lakh crore mark. The GST collection in January 2023 is the second highest next only to the ₹1.68 lakh crore gross mop-up reported in April 2022.
“Over the last year, various efforts have been made to increase the tax base and improve compliance. The percentage of filing of GST returns (GSTR-3B) and of the statement of invoices (GSTR-1), till the end of the month, has improved significantly over years,” the ministry said.
In the October-December 2022 quarter, a total of 2.42 crore GST returns were filed till the end of the next month compared to 2.19 crore in the same quarter of the last year. This is due to various policy changes introduced during the year to improve compliance, it added.
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