Capital expenditure is the money spent by the government on the development of machinery, equipment, building, health facilities, education, etc. It also includes the expenditure incurred on acquiring fixed assets like land and investment by the government that gives profits or dividend in future.
Understanding capital expenditure
Capital spending is associated with investment or development spending, where expenditure has benefits extending years into the future. Capital expenditure includes money spent on the following:
  • Acquiring fixed and intangible assets
  • Upgrading an existing asset
  • Repairing an existing asset
  • Repayment of loan
Why is capital expenditure important?
Capital expenditure, which leads to the creation of assets are long-term in nature and allow the economy to generate revenue for many years by adding or improving production facilities and boosting operational efficiency. It also increases labour participation, takes stock of the economy and raises its capacity to produce more in future.
Along with the creation of assets, repayment of loan is also capital expenditure, as it reduces liability.
However, the government has to be cautious with the expenditure. In the financial year 2019-20, capital expenditure was 14.2 per cent of Budget Estimates. The government had to cut public spending sharply towards the end of the financial year in order that the deficit target could be met. Total expenditure fell by 0.3 percentage points in 2018-19 over 2017-18. This includes a 0.4 percentage point slash in revenue expenditure and 0.1 percentage point hike in capital expenditure.
How is capital expenditure different from revenue expenditure?
Unlike capital expenditure, which creates assets for the future, revenue expenditure is one that neither creates assets nor reduces any liability of the government. Salaries of employees, interest payment on past debt, subsidies, pension, etc, fall under the category of revenue expenditure. It is recurring in nature.