India’s Economic Survey sees better days ahead with reforms


New Delhi : Pushing for reforms and tangible action on removing bottlenecks to investment and job creation, India’s Economic Survey for 2012-13 pegs the country’s growth at 6.1-6.7 percent and inflation at 6.2-6.6 percent for the next fiscal.

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The forecast comes against the backdrop of a deceleration in growth to around 5 percent and 6.2 percent in the previous two fiscals from 9.3 percent and 8.6 percent in the two fiscals before that, induced largely by the global slowdown and financial crisis.

“The slowdown is a wake-up call for increasing the pace of actions and reforms,” said the survey, adding that India has navigated difficult times as these before, and with good policies and strong reforms programme, it will again come through stronger.

Authored by Chief Economic Advisor Raghuram Rajan, the report card on the state of the economy, with recommendations for the way forward, was tabled in parliament by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Wednesday, a day ahead of the national budget for 2013-14.

The survey also pushed for fast action on the ground after the opening up of the retail trade industry to overseas companies and said this will not just pave the way for flow of investment in new technology, but also for marketing of farm produce in India.

“Fast agricultural growth remains vital for jobs, incomes and food security.”

In the survey, a special chapter has been added focusing on jobs that says the future holds promise for India if it seizes the demographic dividend, with nearly half of the additions to the labour force till 2030 expected in the 30-49 age group.

“Because good jobs are both the pathway to growth as well as the best form of inclusion, India has to think of ways of enabling their creation,” says the survey, adding new jobs are currently being added mainly in inflormal and low productivity sectors.

Coming a day ahead of the general budget, the survey also calls for widening the tax base and prioritisation of expenditure as the key ingredients of a credible medium term fiscal consolidation plan.

The survey also expresses concern over the high current account deficit due to a higher share of imports vis a vis exports and says this in the short run must be corrected by cutting oil and gold imports with market-determined prices.

This, the survey argues, is all the more necessary, since the flow of invisibles – such as money in the form of remittances by Indians abroad and software earnings – are not particularly sufficient to cut the current account deficit, now at 4 percent of the GDP.