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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

With revenues likely to plunge amid lockdown, states may need succour

The big concern is that the Centre’s sharp jump in net borrowings in 2020-21 will pressure the bond markets, making it even more costly for states to mop up funds.

By: ENS Economic Bureau | New Delhi | Published: May 11, 2020 3:25:55 am
The combined revenues — states and Centre — budgeted at just over Rs 50 lakh crore for 2020-21, could fall short by about Rs 7-8 lakh crore, economists say.

Given the union government’s gross tax revenues are likely to fall way short of the budgeted Rs 24.23 lakh crore, states will be badly hit as they receive far smaller devolutions.

Already robbed of revenues from local levies from auto fuels, alcohol, real estate transactions and entertainment during the lockdown, finances of states are in a precarious position. Their own tax revenues contribute roughly 40 per cent to their revenue receipts.

The combined revenues — states and Centre — budgeted at just over Rs 50 lakh crore for 2020-21, could fall short by about Rs 7-8 lakh crore, economists say.

The big concern is that the Centre’s sharp jump in net borrowings in 2020-21 will pressure the bond markets, making it even more costly for states to mop up funds; yields which slipped below 6 per cent on Friday are expected to climb back to over 6 per cent soon. States are estimated to borrow a net Rs 4.3 lakh crore in the current year; a clutch of 19 states managed to pick up Rs 32,560 crore from the bond market a little less than the Rs 37,500 they were hoping to, at an auction in early April.

As many as nine states raised 10-year bonds at yields between 7.80 per cent and 8 per cent on April 7, a spread of 140-160 basis points over the benchmark yield. The spreads were wider than the 115-bps at the March 30 auctions. Kerala coughed up 8.96 per cent for15-year money.

Reserve Bank of India’s indicative Q1FY21 quota for states of Rs 1.27 lakh crore is about 56 per cent more than last year’s quota. However, they might need to raise a lot more with revenues in April at a fraction of the usual levels. Otherwise, expenditure, even on essentials will need to be slashed.

In November last, a clutch of state finance ministers had alleged the Centre was holding back Rs 40,000-45000 crore of GST compensation. States own tax revenues, for 2020-21, are estimated at Rs 15 lakh crore. —FE

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