The FRBM Act is a law enacted by the Government of India in 2003 to ensure fiscal discipline – by setting targets including reduction of fiscal deficits and elimination of revenue deficit.
Escape clause refers to the situation under which the central government can flexibly follow fiscal deficit target during special circumstances. This terminology was innovated by the NK Singh Committee on FRBM.
In Budget 2017, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley deferred the fiscal deficit target of 3% of the GDP and chose a target of 3.2%, citing the NK Singh committee report.
However, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) pulled up the government for deferring the targets which it said should have been done through amending the Act. In 2018, the FRBM Act was further amended. Specific details were updated in sub-section (2) of Section 4. The clause allows the govt to relax the fiscal deficit target for up to 50 basis points or 0.5 per cent. Under FRBM, if the escape clause is triggered to allow for a breach of fiscal deficit target, the RBI is then allowed to participate directly in the primary auction of government bonds, thus formalising deficit financing.
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