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The Hindu Vocab 03rd Jan 2018

On the ledger: on fiscal consolidation

Expenditure data underline the government’s challenge on fiscal consolidation

Eight months into the financial year, or until end November, the Union government’s fiscal deficit — the amount by which its expenditure exceeds revenue — had already overshot (पार कर जाना) the year’s budget target by a significant ₹65,573 crore. And as in everything with numbers, there are several interesting insights (निरीक्षण) to be had, some fairly straightforward and self-explanatory and others less obvious (स्पष्ट) and disconcerting (परेशान कर देने वाला). One of the biggest contributors to the wider fiscal slippage has clearly been the faster pace at which total expenditure has grown. While the government had in the Union Budget provided for overall spending to increase by a modest 6.6% over the revised estimates for the previous fiscal, data for April-November released by the Controller General of Accounts show a 14.9% jump year-on-year. A look at the individual ministries and how they have front-loaded their spending shows wide variability (परिवर्तनशीलता) with several ministries still significantly underutilising (कम उपयोग) their budget allocations over the first eight months. (One of the government’s aims when it advanced the budget presentation by a month to February 1 was to ensure that government departments had adequate time to spend the funds apportioned (बाँट देना) to them in an optimal manner.) Similarly, revenue receipts for the eight-month period have shown an underwhelming 1.1% year-on-year increase while the budget projection was for 6.5% growth. Even if some of the sluggishness (निष्क्रियता) in revenue receipts can be explained by the fact that the current year has been a one-off, transitional period given that the GST regime was implemented from July 1, there are other pressure points that policymakers need to square up with. Non-tax revenue at 36.5% of budget estimates compares unfavourably with the 54.2% garnered (एकत्र करना) in the corresponding period of the previous year.

There is also the issue of how the government is likely to account the additional capital it has announced as part of the recapitalisation effort to bolster (सँभालना) the financial health of public sector banks. There is the additional ₹50,000 crore in market borrowing that the government has planned for the fourth quarter — a move it has said will not significantly impact the fiscal calculus since it simultaneously plans to scale back collections from treasury bills. The fiscal gap has widened in spite of a healthy jump in non-debt capital receipts, which include the ₹17,357 crore the government received from the public listing of state-run insurance companies, and steady improvements in corporate and personal income tax collections. That the figures revealing (सारगर्भित) the fiscal slippage have come less than two months after Moody’s upgraded India’s sovereign (सर्वश्रेष्ठ) credit rating serves as a reminder that there is little room for complacency (आदरभाव). With monetary authorities at the RBI having reiterated (बार बार कहना या करना) the inflationary risks that a worsening fiscal gap would pose, and private investment still struggling to gain traction (खींचना), policymakers would do well to try and regain their footing on the crucial path of fiscal consolidation (एकीकरण).


1. Overshot: to go beyond the limit of
Synonyms: break, outreach, outrun, overpass, overreach, overrun, exceed, overstep, surpass, transcend
Words Related: encroach, entrench (also intrench), infringe, invade, trespass, overdo, overuse, overutilize, overwork

2. Insights: the ability to understand inner qualities or relationships
Synonyms: discernment, wisdom, perception, perceptiveness, perceptivity, sagaciousness, sagacity, sageness, sapience
Antonyms: preposterousness, senselessness, silliness, zaniness, brainlessness, folly, foolishness, idiocy, imbecility, mindlessness, silliness, simplemindedness, simpleness, stupidity, witlessness

3. Obvious: not subject to misinterpretation or more than one interpretation
Synonyms: apparent, bald, bald-faced, barefaced, bright-line, broad, clear-cut, crystal clear, decided, distinct, evident, lucid, luculent, luminous, manifest, nonambiguous, clear, open-and-shut, palpable, patent, pellucid, perspicuous, plain, ringing, straightforward, transparent, unambiguous, unambivalent, unequivocal, unmistakable
Antonyms: ambiguous, clouded, cryptic, dark, enigmatic (also enigmatical), equivocal, indistinct, mysterious, nonobvious, obfuscated, obscure, unapparent, unclarified, unclear, unclouded

4. Disconcerting: causing embarrassment
Synonyms: discomfiting, awkward, disturbing, embarrassing, flustering, uncomfortable
Antonyms: agreeable, comfortable, convenient, pleasing

5. Apportioned: to give out (something) to appropriate individuals
Synonyms: allocate, administer, deal (out), dispense, distribute, dole out, hand out, mete (out), parcel (out), portion, prorate
Antonyms: begrudge, decline, deny, deprive (of), disallow, refuse, reject, withhold, misallocate

6. Sluggishness: moving or operating more slowly than usual and with less energy or power
Synonyms: lethargy, inertia, listlessness, lack of energy, lifelessness, inactivity, inaction, slowness, languor, languidness, torpor, torpidity, dullness, heaviness, apathy, passivity, weariness, tiredness, lassitude, fatigue, sleepiness, drowsiness, enervation, somnolence, laziness, idleness, indolence, sloth, slothfulness
Antonyms: vigour, energy, animation

7. Garnered: to bring together in one body or place
Synonyms: accumulate, amass, assemble, bulk (up), collect, concentrate, congregate, constellate, corral, gather, group, lump, pick up, round up
Antonyms: break up, disband, disintegrate, dissolve, separate, sever, split (up), dispel, disperse, dissipate, scatter

8. Bolster: to hold up or serve as a foundation for
Synonyms: bear, support, brace, buttress, carry, prop (up), shore (up), stay, sustain, undergird, underpin, uphold
Antonyms: undercut, undermine, weaken

9. Revealing: clearly conveying a special meaning (as one’s mood)
Synonyms: eloquent, meaning, meaningful, pregnant, expressive, revelatory, significant, suggestive
Antonyms: unexpressive

10. Complacency: an often unjustified feeling of being pleased with oneself or with one’s situation or achievements
Synonyms: amour propre, bighead, complacence, conceit, conceitedness, ego, egotism, pomposity, pompousness, pride, pridefulness, self-admiration, self-assumption, self-conceit, self-congratulation, self-esteem, self-glory, self-importance, self-love, self-opinion, self-satisfaction, smugness, swelled head, swellheadedness, vaingloriousness, vainglory, vainness, vanity
Antonyms: humbleness, humility, modesty, bashfulness, demureness, shyness, timidity, timidness, self-disgust, self-hate, self-loathing, altruism, unselfishness

11. Reiterated: to say or state again
Synonyms: chime, din, iterate, rehearse, repeat
Words Related: abstract, encapsulate, epitomize, outline, recap, recapitulate, summarize, sum up, paraphrase, reword

12. Traction: the ability of a wheel or tyre to hold the ground without sliding
Synonyms: grip, friction, adhesion, purchase, resistance, pull, haulage, propulsion, drag

13. Consolidation: the act or an instance of joining two or more things into one
Synonyms: combination, combining, connecting, connection, union, coupling, junction, linking, merger, merging, unification
Antonyms: breakup, disconnection, dissolution, disunion, division, parting, partition, schism, scission, split, detachment, divorcement, separation, severance

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