The Economic Survey for 2022-23 tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman says that Indian economy is set to grow faster in the coming decade with the post Covid pandemic recovery having been faster than expected.
The survey said that once the global shocks of the pandemic and Russia-Ukraine conflict, causing a spike in commodity prices, settle down, growth is expected to be brisk in FY24 as a vigorous credit disbursal, and capital investment cycle is expected to unfold in India.
The survey projected GDP growth for 2023-24 at 6.5% but said it may vary in the range of 6-6.8% depending on risks pertaining to global economic and political developments. The projection is broadly comparable to the estimates provided by multilateral agencies such as the World Bank, the IMF, and the ADB and by RBI, domestically.
“In the present decade, the presence of strong medium-term growth magnets provides optimism and hope that once these global shocks of the pandemic and the spike in commodity prices in 2022 fade away, the Indian economy is well placed to grow faster in the coming decade… similar to the growth experience of the economy after 2003,” it said.
The optimistic growth forecasts stem from a number of positives like the rebound of private consumption given a boost to production activity, higher Capital Expenditure (Capex), near-universal vaccination coverage enabling people to spend on contact-based services, such as restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, and cinemas, as well as the return of migrant workers to cities to work in construction sites leading to a significant decline in housing market inventory, the strengthening of the balance sheets of the Corporates, a well-capitalised public sector banks ready to increase the credit supply and the credit growth to the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector to name the major ones.
It says, growth is expected to be brisk in FY24 as a vigorous credit disbursal, and capital investment cycle is expected to unfold in India with the strengthening of the balance sheets of the corporate and banking sectors. Further support to economic growth will come from the expansion of public digital platforms and path-breaking measures such as PM GatiShakti, the National Logistics Policy, and the Production-Linked Incentive schemes to boost manufacturing output.
The Survey says, in real terms, the economy is expected to grow at 7% for the year ending March 2023. This follows an 8.7% growth in the previous financial year.
Despite the three shocks of COVID-19, Russian-Ukraine conflict and the Central Banks across economies led by Federal Reserve responding with synchronised policy rate hikes to curb inflation, leading to appreciation of US Dollar and the widening of the Current Account Deficits (CAD) in net importing economies, agencies worldwide continue to project India as the fastest-growing major economy at 6.5-7.0 per cent in FY23.
According to Survey, India’s economic growth in FY23 has been principally led by private consumption and capital formation and they have helped generate employment as seen in the declining urban unemployment rate and in the faster net registration in Employee Provident Fund. Moreover, World’s second-largest vaccination drive involving more than 2 billion doses also served to lift consumer sentiments that may prolong the rebound in consumption. Still, private capex soon needs to take up the leadership role to put job creation on a fast track.
It also points out that the upside to India’s growth outlook arises from limited health and economic fallout for the rest of the world from the current surge in Covid-19 infections in China and, therefore, continued normalisation of supply chains, inflationary impulses from the reopening of China’s economy turning out to be neither significant nor persistent, recessionary tendencies in major Advanced Economies (AEs) triggering a cessation of monetary tightening and a return of capital flows to India amidst a stable domestic inflation rate below 6 per cent and this leading to an improvement in animal spirits and providing further impetus to private sector investment.
The Survey says, the credit growth to the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector has been remarkably high, over 30.6 per cent, on average during Jan-Nov 2022, supported by the extended Emergency Credit Linked Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) of the Union government. It adds that the recovery of MSMEs is proceeding apace, as is evident in the amounts of Goods and Services Tax (GST) they pay, while the Emergency Credit Linked Guarantee Scheme (ECGLS) is easing their debt servicing concerns.
Apart from this, increase in the overall bank credit has also been influenced by the shift in borrower’s funding choices from volatile bond markets, where yields have increased, and external commercial borrowings, where interest and hedging costs have increased, towards banks. If inflation declines in FY24 and if real cost of credit does not rise, then credit growth is likely to be brisk in FY24.
The Capital Expenditure (Capex) of the central government, which increased by 63.4 per cent in the first eight months of FY23, was another growth driver of the Indian economy in the current year, crowding in the private Capex since the January-March quarter of 2022. On current trend, it appears that the full year’s capital expenditure budget will be met. A sustained increase in private Capex is also imminent with the strengthening of the balance sheets of the Corporates and the consequent increase in credit financing it has been able to generate.
Dwelling on halt in construction activities during the Pandemic, the Survey underscores that vaccinations have facilitated the return of migrant workers to cities to work in construction sites as the rebound in consumption spilled over into the housing market. This is evident in the housing market witnessing a significant decline in inventory overhang to 33 months in Q3 of FY23 from 42 months last year.
It also says that the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) has been directly providing jobs in rural areas and indirectly creating opportunities for rural households to diversify their sources of income generation. Schemes like PM-Kisan and PM Garib Kalyan Yojana have helped in ensuring food security in the country, and their impact was also endorsed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The results of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS) also show improvement in rural welfare indicators from FY16 to FY20, covering aspects like gender, fertility rate, household amenities, and women empowerment.
The Survey notes with optimism that Indian economy appears to have moved on after its encounter with the pandemic, staging a full recovery in FY22 ahead of many nations and positioning itself to ascend to the pre-pandemic growth path in FY23. Yet in the current year, India has also faced the challenge of reining in inflation that the European strife accentuated. Measures taken by the government and RBI, along with the easing of global commodity prices, have finally managed to bring retail inflation below the RBI upper tolerance target in November 2022.