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Bt50 bn revenue shortfall seen

The government is staring at an expected revenue shortfall of at least Bt50 billion this fiscal year, with three departments now drawing up urgent measures to boost mainly tax receipts and revisiting the overall revenue collection plan for all of fiscal 2014.

"We are reassessing this year's revenue for how much it will be lower than the target. About Bt50 billion from gradual rises in the diesel tax and the 3G auction will definitely be missing from the estimate," an anonymous Finance Ministry source said yesterday.

The shortfall does not reflect a likely about 2-percentage-point cut in the economic growth forecast.

The ministry's review was prompted by a Bt20 billion deficit in budgeted government revenue - the first in four to five years - for the first six months.

As the Fiscal Policy Office's government revenue projection is much higher than those of the three revenue collection units, a discussion among them is required to finalise the latest estimate for revenue, the source said.

The government had been counting on revenue of Bt30 billion from gradual rises in the diesel tax and Bt20 billion from the proceeds of the 3G auction, but the diesel tax has not risen yet and the 3G auction revenue was collected faster than planned. It was booked in fiscal 2013.

The Bt2.275 trillion revenue estimate for fiscal 2014 may be lowered following a likely cut in this year's projected gross domestic product (GDP) expansion from 4.5 per cent.

Given several factors, particularly the political situation, this year's growth estimate may be slashed to lower than 2.6 per cent and that could drag down the government revenue's collection, the ministry source said.

In a meeting on Wednesday, the three tax collection units were assigned to maximise their tax collecting efficiency, particularly regarding tax avoidance, the source said.

"Principally, if the ministry has not revised down its target (for government revenue), department executives should not come out to indicate a loss ," the source said.

If government revenue is lower than budgeted and state expenditures remain the same, treasury reserves will be borrowed for spending and a portion of next fiscal year's budget will be needed to return the used-up treasury reserves.


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