Indian economy grew 8.7% in last fiscal year to surpass pre-Covid levels, IMF says

Growth expected to moderate to 6.8% in current year amid tighter financial conditions

India rebounded from the coronavirus-induced downturn on the back of strong fiscal and monetary policies. Bloomberg
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India’s real gross domestic product grew by 8.7 per cent in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, boosting its total output above pre-coronavirus levels despite global macroeconomic headwinds, the International Monetary Fund has said.

India, Asia's third-largest economy and the world's fifth largest, rebounded from the deep pandemic-induced downturn on the back of fiscal measures to address high prices and monetary policy tightening to address elevated inflation, the Washington-based lender said in a report on Friday.

“Economic headwinds include inflation pressures, tighter global financial conditions, the fallout from the war in Ukraine and associated sanctions on Russia, and significantly slower growth in China and advanced economies,” the fund said.

“Growth has continued this fiscal year, supported by a recovery in the labour market and increasing credit to the private sector.”

In October, the IMF cut its global economic growth forecast for next year, amid the Ukraine conflict, broadening inflation pressures and a slowdown in China, the world’s second-largest economy.

The fund maintained its global economic estimate for this year at 3.2 per cent but downgraded next year's forecast to 2.7 per cent — 0.2 percentage points lower than its July forecast.

There is a 25 per cent probability that growth could fall below 2 per cent next year, the IMF said in its World Economic Outlook report at the time.

Global economic growth in 2023 is expected to be as weak as in 2009 during the financial crisis as a result of the Ukraine conflict and its impact on the world economy, according to the Institute of International Finance.

Economic growth in India is expected to moderate, reflecting the less favourable outlook and tighter financial conditions, the IMF said.

Real GDP is projected to grow at 6.8 per cent for the current financial year to the end of March, and by 6.1 per cent in 2023-2024 fiscal year, according to the fund's estimates.

Reflecting broad-based price pressures, inflation in India is forecast at 6.9 per cent in the 2022-2023 fiscal year and expected to moderate only gradually over the next year.

Rising inflation can further dampen domestic demand and affect vulnerable groups, according to the fund.

India’s current account deficit is expected to increase to 3.5 per cent of GDP in the 2022-2023 fiscal year as a result of both higher commodity prices and strengthening import demand, the lender said.

“A sharp global growth slowdown in the near term would affect India through trade and financial channels,” it said.

“Intensifying spillovers from the war in Ukraine can cause disruptions in the global food and energy markets, with significant impact on India. Over the medium term, reduced international co-operation can further disrupt trade and increase financial markets’ volatility.”

However, the successful introduction of wide-ranging reforms or greater-than-expected dividends from the advances in digitalisation could increase India’s medium-term growth potential, the IMF said.

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A sharp global growth slowdown in the near term would affect India through trade and financial channels
International Monetary Fund

Additional monetary tightening should be carefully calibrated and communicated, it said.

“The exchange rate should act as the main shock absorber, with intervention limited to address disorderly market conditions,” the report said.

The IMF also recommended that India’s financial sector policies should continue to support the exit of non-viable companies and encourage banks to build capital buffers and recognise problem loans.

Reforms to strengthen governance and reduce the government’s footprint are needed to support strong medium-term growth, it said.

The lender also highlighted the need for structural reforms to promote resilient, green and inclusive growth.

“India is making important progress in implementing its climate agenda. Additional efforts, as well as financing and technology transfer, are needed to move to a carbon-neutral economy,” the IMF said.

“The pandemic has highlighted the need to strengthen health, education and social spending, and narrowing the digital divide through improved digital access and literacy.

“Improving productivity, strengthening governance and furthering trade liberalisation would help medium-term growth.”

Updated: December 23, 2022, 2:00 PM
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