India replaces France as world’s 6th biggest economy

India’s GDP amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of last year, against $2.582 trillion for France

India has become the world’s sixth-biggest economy, pushing France into seventh place, according to updated World Bank figures for 2017. India’s gross domestic product (GDP) amounted to $2.597 trillion at the end of last year, against $2.582 trillion for France. India’s economy rebounded strongly from July 2017, after several quarters of slowdown blamed on economic policies pursued by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

India, with around 1.34 billion inhabitants, is poised to become the world’s most populous nation, whereas the French population stands at 67 million. This means that India’s per capita GDP continues to amount to just a fraction of that of France which is still roughly 20 times higher, according to World Bank figures.

Manufacturing and consumer spending were the main drivers of the Indian economy last year, after a slowdown blamed on the demonetisation of large banknotes that Modi imposed at the end of 2016, as well as a chaotic implementation of a new harmonised goods and service tax regime.

India has doubled its GDP within a decade and is expected to power ahead as a key economic engine in Asia, even as China slows down.

According to the International Monetary Fund, India is projected to generate growth of 7.4% this year and 7.8% in 2019, boosted by household spending and a tax reform. This compares to the world’s expected average growth of 3.9%.

The London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research, a consultancy, said at the end of last year that India would overtake both Britain and France this year in terms of GDP, and had a good chance to become the world’s third-biggest economy by 2032.

At the end of 2017, Britain was still the world’s fifth-biggest economy with a GDP of $2.622 trillion. The US is the world’s top economy, followed by China, Japan and Germany.


Foreign investors pump $3 billion into capital markets, forex at record high in January

Foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) have invested a phenomenal $3 billion (close to Rs 18,000 crore) in India’s capital markets this month on expectations of high yields as corporate earnings are expected to pick up with the economy gathering momentum after the slowdown due to the chaotic implementation of GST.

The sharp increase in inflows comes after an outflow of over Rs 3,500 crore by foreign portfolio investors (FPIs) from the capital markets in December, data compiled by depositories shows. According to market analysts money pumped in by FPIs has played a key role in fuelling the bull run in the stock markets that saw both the Sensex and Nifty on a record breaking spree in recent weeks.

FPIs infused a net amount to the tune of Rs 11,759 crore in stocks and Rs 6,127 crore in debt during January 1-25 — translating into net inflows of Rs 17,866 crore. For the entire 2017, FPIs invested a collective amount of Rs 2 lakh crore in the country’s equity and debt markets.

The inflow in the current month can be attributed to anticipation of earnings recovery and attractive yields which is expected to further strengthen inflow from foreign investors in the current financial year, said Dinesh Rohira, CEO of 5nance, an online platform providing financial planning services.

However, Quantum MF Fund Manager-Fixed Income Pankaj Pathak believes that FPIs may not be able to repeat this showing in 2018 as withdrawal of liquidity and rate hikes in developed economies pick up. This would provide them with alternative avenues of investment.

The FPI investments have also helped to bolster the country’s foreign exchange reserves which touched an all-time high of USD 414.784 billion in the week to January 19, Reserve Bank data showed. The RBI data showed that the forex reserves rose by USD 959.1 million to touch a record high during the reporting week. In the previous week, the reserves had touched USD 413.825 billion after it rose by USD 2.7 billion.

The reserves had crossed the USD 400-billion mark for the first time in the week to September 8, 2017 but have since been fluctuating. But for the past four weeks the figure has shown a continuous rise. Higher foreign exchange reserves lead to a stronger rupee which in turn reduces the cost of imports as fewer rupees have to be paid to buy the same amount of dollars to pay for items such as crude oil.

A higher foreign exchange kitty also provides a comfortable cushion to finance imports especially at a time when crude prices are shooting up in the international market and the country’s trade deficit has been growing. However, while FPI inflows add to the forex reserves they are considered “hot money” as they can leave Indian shores at short notice and this could send the rupee into a tailspin.

A senior finance ministry official said that foreign direct investment (FDI) is a more stable source of funding for the economy and since it also creates jobs and incomes the government is keen to see an increase in such investments. The Prime Minister’s trip to Davos was aimed at achieving this goal, he pointed out. He said that the government has been working on the ease of doing business which has seen a sharp increase in FDI inflows and this policy will continue in the forthcoming budget. At the same time the government is keen FPI inflows are not disrupted due to tax levies on stocks that create uncertainties, he added.


Source: Business Today

Demonetisation, GST will bring long-term benefits for Indian economy: IMF on Narendra Modi’s one-off policy moves

The disruptive impact of demonetisation announced last year is a temporary phenomenon and the scrapping of the high-value currency would bring “permanent and substantial benefits”, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In an interview to CNBC TV18, IMF Economic Counsellor and Director of Research Maurice Obstfeld said that although demonetisation, as well as implementation of the Goods and Services tax (GST) caused short-term disruptions, both measures would bring long-term benefits.

“The costs of demonetisation are largely temporary and we see permanent and substantial benefits accruing from the move,” Obstfeld said.

Demonetisation caused long queues outside banks.

Demonetisation caused long queues outside banks.

“Both demonetisation and the GST introduction will bring long-term benefits, though these caused short-term disruption,” he said.

The IMF Chief Economist described GST as a “work in progress” to which the Indian economy is “gradually adjusting”.

With businesses going into a “destocking” mode on inventories in anticipation of the GST rollout from July 1, sluggish manufacturing growth, among other factors, pulled down growth in the Indian economy during the first quarter of this fiscal to 5.7 percent, clocking the lowest GDP growth rate under the Narendra Modi dispensation.

Breaking a five-quarter slump, however, a rise in manufacturing sector output pushed the growth rate higher to 6.3 percent during the second quarter (July-September) of 2017-18.

Obstfeld also listed some of the reforms being undertaken by the Indian government that have impressed the multilateral agencies.

“The government has taken important first steps like bringing in the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, which helped India improve its position substantially in the World Bank’s ‘Ease of Doing Business’ rankings,” he said.

He also mentioned the recent recapitalisation plan for state-run banks announced by the government and the Asset Quality Review of commercial banks earlier ordered by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Both measures are designed to address the issue of massive non-performing assets (NPAs), or bad loans, accumulated in the Indian banking system that have crossed a staggering Rs 8.5 lakh crore.

In a report released in Washington on Thursday, the IMF cautioned that the high volume of NPAs and the slow pace of mending corporate balance sheets are holding back investment and growth in India even though structural reforms have helped the nation record stronger growth.

The IMF’s Financial System Stability Assessment (FSSA) for India said that overall “India’s key banks appear resilient, but the system is subject to considerable vulnerabilities”.

“The financial sector is facing considerable challenges, and economic growth has recently slowed down,” the report said.

“High non-performing assets and slow deleveraging and repair of corporate balance sheets are testing the resilience of the banking system, and holding back investment and growth.”

“Stress tests show that… a group of public sector banks are highly vulnerable to further declines in asset quality and higher provisioning needs,” it added.

Source: FirstPost

India jumps 30 places on World Bank’s ease of doing business index, breaks into top 100

The World Bank’s ease of doing business report showed that eight reforms were key in helping businesses in 2016/17. India is also among the 10 economies to have improved the most, alongside El Salvador, Malawi, Nigeria and Thailand.

Doing business in India became much easier over the past one year because of a raft of policy reforms, an annual World Bank index showed on Tuesday, in what is possibly a shot in the arm for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to win big-ticket investments.

For the first time, India jumped 30 places to break into the top 100 in the ease of doing business rankings for the year to June 2017. The 190-country index is an influential barometer of competitiveness among countries that likely also helps businesses make investment decisions.

India’s impressive performance was largely due to reforms in taxation, insolvency laws and access to credit, part of measures Prime Minister Modi’s government has pushed to boost investment and jobs that would help absorb a million people who join the workforce every month.

“India’s performance is not based on efforts of just one year but consistent efforts made over the last three years to continuously improve the regulatory environment of doing business,” Annette Dixon, vice president South Asia, told a press conference.

“It is the result of a number of reforms that the government has undertaken that India is becoming a preferred destination to do business.”

India saw improvements in six of 10 indicators, including on winning construction permits, enforcing contracts, paying taxes and resolving insolvency. It, however, slipped when it came to starting a business, getting an electricity connection, cross-border trade and registering property.

Underlining how reforms had helped India improve its overall ranking, the World Bank said the establishment of debt recovery tribunals reduced non-performing loans by 28% and lowered interest rates on larger loans, suggesting that faster processing of debt recovery cases cut the cost of credit.

India was also among the 10 economies to have improved the most, alongside El Salvador, Malawi, Nigeria and Thailand.

Hindustan Times

IMF says global growth recovery an opportunity for Indian economy

IMF expects the Indian economy to recover sharply in 2018 to grow at 7.4%, though 30 basis points lower than its earlier estimate in April.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday pared its growth forecast for the Indian economy by half a percentage point to 6.7% for 2017, blaming the lingering disruptions caused by demonetisation of high value currencies last year and the roll out of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

However, IMF said the structural reforms undertaken by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government would trigger a recovery—above 8% in the medium term.

In its latest World Economic Outlook, IMF said the global economy is going through a cyclical upswing that began midway through 2016. It raised the global growth estimate marginally for 2017 to 3.6% while flagging downside risks. The upward revisions in its growth forecasts including for the euro area, Japan, China, emerging Europe, and Russia more than offset downward revisions for the United States, the United Kingdom, and India.

“In India, growth momentum slowed, reflecting the lingering impact of the authorities’ currency exchange initiative as well as uncertainty related to the midyear introduction of the countrywide Goods and Services Tax,” it said in the WEO.

However, IMF expects the Indian economy to recover sharply in 2018 to grow at 7.4%, though 30 basis points lower than its earlier estimate in April.

One basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.

In its South Asia Economic Focus (Fall 2017) released on Monday, the World Bank reduced India’s GDP growth forecast to 7% for 2017-18 from 7.2% estimated earlier, blaming disruptions caused by demonetisation and GST implementation, while maintaining at the same time that the Indian economy would claw back to grow at 7.4% by 2019-20.

Both the Asian Development Bank as well as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have also cut their growth projections for India to 7% and 6.7%, respectively, for fiscal 2017-18.

IMF said a gradual recovery in India’s growth trajectory is a result of implementation of important structural reforms. GST, “which promises the unification of India’s vast domestic market, is among several key structural reforms under implementation that are expected to help push growth above 8% in the medium term,” it added.

The multilateral lending agency said India needs to focus on simplifying and easing labour market regulations and land acquisition procedures which are long-standing requirements for improving the business climate. It also called for briding the gender gap in accessing social services, finance and education to accelerate growth in developing countries like India.

IMF said given faster-than-expected declines in inflation rates in many larger economies, including India, “the projected level of monetary policy interest rates for the group is somewhat lower than in the April 2017 WEO.”

In its monetary policy review last week, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) kept its policy rates unchanged and marginally raised its inflation forecast for rest of the year.

Highlighting the growing income inequality within and among emerging market economies, IMF said a country’s growth rate does not always foretell matching gains in income for the majority of the population. “In China and India, for example, where real per capita GDP grew by 9.6% and 4.9% a year, respectively, in 1993–2007, the median household income is estimated to have grown less—by 7.3% a year in China and only 1.5% a year in India,” it said.

Source: Live Mint

FDI likely to rise further after GST: Moody’s

FDI in India grew by 18% during 2016 to touch $46 billion, data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion showed.

India is likely see increased foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows on the back of reforms such as introduction of the goods and services tax and the bankruptcy code, international ratings agency Moody’s said in a report on Monday.

“Combined with reforms such as the introduction of a goods and services tax, which lowers the cost and complexity of doing business, and a simplified and clarified bankruptcy code, FDI is likely to rise further,” the agency said in its report on how structural reforms by Asia Pacific sovereigns could become more effective from stronger global demand.

In India, Moody’s said, the government has raised ceilings for authorised FDI in a number of sectors. “FDI has already increased substantially, albeit from a low base,” the report said.FDI in India grew by 18% during 2016 to touch $46 billion, data released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion showed.

The Narendra Modi government has liberalised FDI framework for a number of sectors including insurance, defence and civil aviation and also taken steps towards the ease of doing business. Moody’s said the positive economic impact of India and Indonesia’s measures to attract higher levels of FDI, combined with steps to improve business conditions, are likely to be more apparent in a stronger global macroeconomic environment. The agency has maintained India’s sovereign rating at Baa3 positive.

“India and Indonesia’s governments have both implemented reforms over the past few years to improve the overall business climate and, more specifically, to attract FDI,” Moody’s said, adding that a robust global environment is likely to amplify the positive impact of the reforms on the two countries’ attractiveness to foreign investors.

Moody’s Investors Service said the strengthening in global demand since the end of last year has buoyed Asia Pacific’s trade-reliant economies, but added that faster export growth has yet to feed into a sustainable acceleration in output growth.

CBEC plans strategy to bring more businesses in GST net

Tax officials are working out strategies to encourage more businesses to register for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and further increase the taxpayer base.

At present, there are about 90 lakh businesses registered to file returns and pay taxes under the new levy, which kicked in from July 1.

But, the Central Board of Excise and Customs will now also encourage small businesses and dealers, who may be exempt from registering for GST.

“We plan to increase awareness of even small businesses about the benefits of GST and why they should register,” said a senior official, pointing out that in the long run it will be beneficial to them as suppliers would only choose to buy from those businesses from where they can get input tax credit.

Further, in some cases tax officials may also verify whether businesses that were paying taxes earlier have registered for GST.

Officials believe that as the new tax system stabilises, more businesses will register under GST, taking the tax base to over one crore in the next one year, if not before.

At present, businesses with an annual turnover of up to ₹20 lakh (or ₹10 lakh in some States) are exempt from registering for GST.

Though the number of taxpayers registered with the GSTN is much higher than the original estimate of about 80 lakh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, at the recent Rajaswa Gyan Sangam, urged the Centre and State tax officials to further expand the tax base under GST.

“To enable all traders to take maximum benefit of GST, we should work towards ensuring that all traders, including even relatively smaller traders with a turnover below ₹20 lakh, should register with the GST system,” he had said, asking officials to further increase the taxpayer base.

The issue was also then followed up by Prime Minister’s Office. Also Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha and Revenue Secretary Hasmukh Adhia, at a recent video-conferencing meeting with Centre and State tax officials, assessed the roll out of the new levy and measures to increase the tax base.

Source: The Hindu Business line