The government surprised bond dealers and economists alike by raising Rs 10,000 crore from the market through cash management bills (CMBs), a rarely used instrument that it resorts to only when the exchequer faces a short-term liquidity mismatch.
Bond dealers warned that given that the exchequer has a cash shortage, if the government's expenses are not controlled at this stage or divestments don't pick up pace, there could be slippages leading to a higher deficit figure than the budgeted 4.1%.
Economists said there is leeway for the government to control expenditure and generate revenues for the exchequer.
Under the Ways and Means Advance (WMA) facility of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the government can borrow up to Rs 20,000 crore till March 2015 to meet such short-term frictional cash shortfall at the repo rate, currently at 8%.
If the government borrows anything above that limit, it will have to pay an interest of two percentage points above the repo rate 10% given the current repo rate.
If the government mobilizes funds through CMB, it usually pays a lower rate of interest.
In Monday's 42-day CMB auction, it paid the rate of 8.25% per annum, savings of 1.75 percentage points for the exchequer.
According to bond market dealers, published data show that till September the government had a substantial cash surplus.
However, in the last month and a half that position has reversed.
A dealer with a leading bond house said:The CMB auction indicates a slightly stretched fiscal health of the economy .