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Has Fiscal Rule changed the Fiscal Marksmanship of Union Government?: Anatomy of Budgetary Forecast Errors in India

Publication date

Jun, 2018


NIPFP Working Paper No. 234


Lekha Chakraborty and Darshy Sinha


We analyse the fiscal marksmanship of the macro-fiscal variables of Union Government ex-ante and ex-post to the formulation of fiscal rules in India. The fiscal marksmanship is the accuracy of budgetary forecasting. The fiscal rules have been legally mandated in India in the form of fiscal responsibility and budget management Act (FRBM Act) in 2003, with a criteria of fiscal-deficit to GDP threshold ratio of 3 per cent and gradual phasing out of revenue deficit. Using Theil’s inequality coefficient (U) based on the mean square prediction error, the paper estimates the magnitude of errors in the budgetary forecasts in India during the period ex-ante and ex-post to fiscal rules, and also decomposed the errors into biasedness, unequal variation and random components. The decomposition of errors is to analyze the source of error in both the regimes. Our results found that in both regimes, the proportion of error due to random variation has been significantly higher, which is beyond the control of the forecaster. In other words, the error due to bias of the policy maker in preparing the Union Budget has been negligible in the period ex-ante and ex-post to fiscal responsibility and budget management (FRBM) Act in India. This result has significant policy implications especially in the context of repeal of 2003 FRBM Act in India and the Union Government has announced clauses for a ‘New FRBM Act’ in India in the Finance Bill 2018.

*This paper has been accepted for publication in Journal of Financial Research.

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