Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is looking at yet another year of the Central Government and state-owned companies carrying a bulk of infrastructure spending. The Centre’s capital expenditure for 2018-19 could be at least Rs 3.6 trillion (Rs 3.6 lakh crore), about Rs 510 billion (RS 51,000 crore) or 16 per cent higher than 2017-18 budgeted estimates of Rs 3.09 trillion (Rs 3.09 lakh crore).
For PSUs and the Centre combined, the capex target is easily expected to cross Rs 4.2 trillion (Rs 4.2 lakh crore), Business Standard has learnt. This would be the highest for any given year, and would surpass the previous high by a wide margin.
The 2018-19 budget, to be presented by Jaitley on February 1, will be last full budget before the 2018-19. While it isn't expected to be outright populist, it will still be huge on public spending. Officials say higher outlay on projects in sectors such as roads, railways and affordable housing will help in job creation.
“While the process to clean up banks’ balance sheets is well underway, it is still some way before the pipeline of pending projects is cleared, and lending to the private sector picks up again. The private sector is still not in a position to complement the Central Government and PSU capital spending. Hence, the burden is with the Centre,” said an official.
The combined Centre-PSU capital spending target for 2017-18 was Rs 3.85 trillion (Rs 3.85 lakh crore). Earlier this year, the centre had nudged state-owned companies to spend an additional Rs 250 billion (Rs 25,000 crore) in capital expenditure. An additional outlay of Rs 250 billion will take this year’s capex to Rs 4.1 trillion (Rs 4.1 lakh crore).