• The Centre’s fiscal deficit for April-November likely stood at 107% of the fiscal year 2019-20 target of Rs 7.04 trillion, said senior government sources. This compares to 114.8% for April-November, 2018-19, and 102.4% till the end of October this year.
  • This means that for the remaining four months of the fiscal year, the Centre has to initiate a heavy compression of expenditure in order to meet the fiscal deficit target, which has been pegged at 3.3% of GDP. For the first half of the year (April-September), fiscal deficit was at 6.6% of the GDP for that period.
  • In a major connectivity and infrastructure boost for the state of Kerala, the Government of India has given an in-principle approval to the Silver Line, a semi-high speed railway project between State’s capital city of Thiruvananthapuram and city of Kasaragod.
  • The project once completed would reduce the time taken to travel between the two cities from present 12 hours to just four hours, with the trains able to run at a speed of up to 200 kmph.
  • During the pre-Budget consultation with Union Finance Minister, some states made a case for fiscal expansion by boosting consumption to tide over the sluggishness in the economy. The biggest take home from Pre-Budget discussion of FMs is suggestion by Bihar and Kerala to raise the fiscal deficit limit to 4%. It was agreed to large number of states.
  • Some experts have already predicted that the fiscal deficit is expected to rise to 3.6-3.8% of the GDP during the current fiscal due to weak revenue collections resulting from sluggish economic growth and government’s sweeping corporate tax rate cut.
  • India Inc has sought more measures for ease of doing business and export promotion coupled with simplification of labour laws. Industry chambers also advocated for expansionary fiscal policy to arrest the slowdown.
  • At a pre-Budget meeting with representatives of Indian industry, export business and services industry called by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, the industry bodies made this pitch.
  • Discussions were also held on the regulatory environment impacting private investment, measures for promotion of exports amidst rising protectionist tendencies, Industrial production, logistics, media and entertainment services, and IT and IT-enabled services among others.
  • Power demand and generation declined for the fourth quarter in a row in India, indicating a slowdown in the economy.
  • Total conventional power generation, which is predominantly fueled by coal, was down six percent on a year-on-year basis in November, according to a report.
  • Global coal demand is expected to remain stable until 2024 as growth in Asia offsets weaker demand from Europe and the United States, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said.
  • “Despite the growth in low-carbon fuels in recent decades, the reality is coal remains a major fuel in global energy markets … the world consumes 65% more coal today than in the year 2000,” the report by the Paris-based agency said.
  • World coal demand is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 0.5%, reaching 5,624 million tonnes of coal equivalent (Mtce) in 2024, the IEA said.
  • An increase is predicted for India, with demand rising by 4.2% a year to 748 Mtce in 2024 from 585 Mtce in 2018, boosted by a rise in coal-fired power output, the IEA said.