An autonomous research institute under the Ministry of Finance


Finance Commission of India's Assessments: A Political Economy Contention between Expectations and Outcomes

Publication date

Sep, 2014


NIPFP Working Paper No. 141


Nithin K and Rathin Roy


We explore the normative fiscal assessments of the Finance Commission of India, and realisation of fiscal policy with regard to Central Finances over the period 1990-2012. We employ the Theil’s inequality coefficient to investigate the magnitude of assessment errors and its partitioning in to bias, slope and random components. Furthermore, this paper also evaluates the efficiency, biasedness and persistence of forecast errors. The robustness of the efficiency results are confirmed with the application of maximum entropy bootstrap. The objective of this study is to examine the structural basis on which Finance Commissions make their awards rather than examining the predictability of the forecasts.  The story of Finance Commissions assessments reflects an interesting political economy theatre of contention between aspirations and outcomes. Our key findings are as follows: Firstly, source of errors for assessments of tax revenue, non-tax revenue, interest payments, defence revenue expenditure, plan revenue expenditure and fiscal deficit is principally due to random component. However the errors in the remaining economic parameters originate due to systemic components i.e. mean and slope errors. Secondly, the expenditure side predictability is lower than the revenue side predictability. 

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