The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Rahul Anand, David Coady, Adil Mohommad, Vimal Thakoor, and James Walsh
INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND
Rising fuel subsidies have contributed to fiscal pressures in India. A key policy concern regarding subsidy reform is the adverse welfare impact on households, in particular poor households. This paper evaluates the fiscal and welfare implications of fuel subsidy reform in India. Fuel subsidies are found to be badly targeted, with the richest ten percent of households receiving seven times more in benefits than the poorest ten percent. Although subsidy reform would generate substantial fiscal savings, the associated increases in fuel and other prices would lower household real incomes of all income groups. Better targeting of fuel subsidies would fully protect lower income households while still generating substantial net fiscal savings. Lessons from subsidy reforms in other countries are identified and discussed.