major macro economic indicators
|GDP growth* (%)||5.1||6.9||7.2||7.2|
|Inflation (yearly average) (%)||10.0||7.2||5.8||6.1|
|Budget balance** (% GDP)||-7.1||-7.0||-6.8||-6.5|
|Current account balance (% GDP)||-4.7||-1.7||-1.2||-0.3|
|Public debt** (% GDP)||66.2||65.3||64.9||63.1|
(e) Estimated (f) Forecast
*Take into consideration changes in GDP calculation method introduced in February 2015
** Includes federal public debt and debt for local authorities
Fiscal year: April – March
- Diversified growth drivers
- Solid fundamentals: high levels of savings and investment
- Effective private sector in services
- Moderate external debt and satisfactory foreign exchange reserves
- Lack of infrastructure and shortcomings in the education system
- Cumbersome bureaucracy and persistent political deadlocks
- Net importer of energy resources
- Rising debt of private companies
- Weak public finances
- Persistent uncertainties over the Kashmir issue
The fall in the oil price is benefitting growth
The economic recovery should continue during the 2015/2016 financial year. The Indian economy will benefit from the fall in the oil price and from the first effects of the structural reforms undertaken by Narendra Modi. Since he came to power in May 2014, the Indian prime minister has initiated numerous measures aimed at promoting the Indian manufacturing sector, attracting foreign direct investment and easing the structural constraints affecting the Indian economy, such as the land acquisition law and the rigid labour laws. Meanwhile the budget for the 2015/2016 financial year includes the creation of a sovereign fund for financing important road, rail and electricity infrastructure projects. Nevertheless, the implementation of these projects remains dependent on the progress of land reform.
Moreover, the government has also announced the introduction of universal social security which will make it possible to sustain private consumption, the main growth driver.
The services sector will also continue to support activity, particularly the high tech branch. Meanwhile, inflation is now under control thanks, especially, to the fall in commodities prices, primarily oil and gold prices. Nevertheless, inflation will remain volatile, since this is correlated with the monsoon which directly affects the quality of the harvests. Inflation control allowed the central bank to lower its key rate in January and March 2015 and new rate cuts are expected in the course of the year. Monetary policy easing is likely to support both private consumption and investment, which also benefits from the fall in the oil price.
External accounts under control but public finances remain weak
Despite the intention to balance the public accounts, the fiscal deficit and the public debt remain substantial. Nevertheless, the infrastructure spending planned by the Modi government is not expected to be funded by debt but by the sale of licences and the privatisation of state-owned enterprises. Moreover, the reform of subsidies, particularly those on oil, will make it possible to reduce spending, and the adoption of VAT at the federal level is due in 2015 for implementation in 2016.
As for the external accounts, the current account deficit is expected to remain under control despite the lifting of restrictions on gold imports because the fall in gold and oil prices will enable the value of imports to be controlled, while exports will benefit from the recovery of the advanced economies.
Despite expectations of a tighter US Federal Reserve monetary policy, the rupee should remain stable in 2015, the current account deficit being limited and the foreign exchange reserves at comfortable levels (nearly 6 months of imports in 2015). Moreover, direct FDIs and portfolio investments are on a rising trend.
Finally, the public banks, which account for three quarters of bank assets and are burdened with the funding of the non-profitable sectors, are showing a deterioration in the quality of their assets.
Despite his popularity, Prime Minister Modi’s reforms will be difficult to implement.
Following the May 2014 elections which resulted in a big victory for the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), Narendra Modi was named prime minister and his party holds an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha (lower house of Parliament). The holding of elections in several big states confirmed the BJP’s popularity. However, the BJP experienced its first electoral reverse in a regional poll in Delhi in February 2015 and the Congress Party will continue to dominate the upper house at least until the end of 2015, which could delay the structural reforms promised during the campaign and awaited by the business community, which reacted very positively to Mr Modi's election.
Even though Mr Modi’s record while he was Chief Minister is blemished by the violence of 2002, in which thousands of Muslims died, India's partners, notably the United States, greeted his election favourably. After receiving Mr Modi in September 2014, Barack Obama visited India in January 2015. However, relations with Pakistan remain tense. Despite the Pakistani Prime Minister's presence at Mr Modi’s investiture, India suspended its talks with Pakistan after the meeting between the Pakistani High Commissioner in New Delhi and the Kashmiri separatist leaders. However, a resumption of dialogue was initiated in March 2015 thanks to the meeting in Islamabad of the senior foreign affairs representatives.
Finally, despite the expected reforms, the business climate will continue to suffer from persistent shortcomings.