Why is it in the news?
- The Union Finance Minister’s announcement of reducing the fiscal deficit to 5.1% of GDP in 2024-25 reflects a commitment to fiscal prudence and economic stability.
About Fiscal Consolidation
- Fiscal consolidation refers to the process of reducing fiscal deficits and stabilizing government debt levels relative to GDP.
Significance of fiscal consolidation:
- Macroeconomic Stability: By reducing fiscal deficits, governments can stabilize the economy and avoid excessive borrowing that might lead to macroeconomic imbalances such as high inflation or currency depreciation.
- Investor Confidence: Lower fiscal deficits signal to investors that the government is managing its finances responsibly, which can improve investor confidence in the economy. This, in turn, can lead to increased investment, both domestic and foreign, fostering economic growth.
- Interest Rates: Fiscal consolidation can help in keeping interest rates lower. When governments borrow less, they reduce the demand for credit, which can lead to lower interest rates. Lower interest rates stimulate investment and consumption, further supporting economic growth.
- Sustainable Growth: By avoiding excessive borrowing, fiscal consolidation promotes sustainable economic growth. It ensures that the government’s borrowing doesn’t crowd out private investment, allowing businesses to access credit at reasonable rates and invest in productivity-enhancing activities.
- Fiscal Space for Policy Interventions: A lower fiscal deficit provides governments with more room to manoeuvre during economic downturns. With lower debt levels, governments can implement countercyclical fiscal policies such as increased spending or tax cuts to stimulate demand and stabilize the economy without risking a debt crisis.
- Improved Credit Ratings: Reduced fiscal deficits and government debt can lead to improved credit ratings from credit rating agencies. Higher credit ratings indicate lower risk and can result in lower borrowing costs for the government, saving taxpayer money in the long term.
- Long-term Sustainability: Fiscal consolidation is essential for ensuring the long-term sustainability of government finances. High levels of debt and persistent deficits can lead to debt crises, as seen in various countries around the world. By consolidating finances, governments can avoid such crises and ensure the stability of public finances for future generations.