ALL POINTERS SUGGEST THAT THE INDIAN ECONOMY IS SET TO CONSOLIDATE ITS GROWTH
It is now widely acknowledged that the Indian Economy is one of the fastest growing economies in the world. With GDP growth clocking an average of approximately 9% for the last three years, a question arises whether this momentum can be maintained in future. The following stunning figures clearly indicate that the Indian economy is should be in a position to consolidate its growth in the current bearish environment and it is poised to maintain its spectacular growth story for at least the next few decades.
OUTSTANDING PROJECT INVESTMENT PROPOSALS AT US$ 607 BILLION:
Figures collated by CMIE reveal that at the end of January 2006, almost 10,200 outstanding project investment proposals amounting to a cumulative investment of almost US$ 607 billion were outstanding. This, significantly, works out to 77% of GDP of $ 785 billion. Such is the pace of investment that a recent survey quarter recorded fresh investment proposals of almost US$65 billion, a sum greater than the annual fresh investment of between US$ 34 to 45 billion seen in the last eight years. Figures collated by CMIE also reveal that of the total outstanding project investments of US$ 607 billion at the end of January 2006, almost 30% were accounted for by manufacturing, 28.7% by electricity and 27.3% by services.
GOVERNMENT CLEARS LARGE INVESTMENTS IN SEZs:
The cumulative investment running to about US$ 20 billion has been made in special economic zones. These investments envisage conversion of over 60,000 hectares of the country’s land mass into SEZs and create jobs for over 300,000 people.
FDI INFLOWS TOUCHES A RECORD US$ 16 BILLION:
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows into India during the year 2006-07 (April 2006-March 2007) touched a record US$ 16 billion as against a mere US$3-4bn that India used to report a couple of years ago and US$ 5 billion reported in 2004-05.
NRI REMITTANCE TOUCHES A RECORD HIGH OF US$ 23.3 BILLION IN 2005: According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) figures, overseas Indians (Non Resident Indians) remitted $23.3bn in 2005 — almost double the amount of net foreign institutional investor inflows and one-fourth of the merchandise export earnings of the country during the period. India continues to be the largest recipient of remittances for more than five years now. China and Mexico occupy the second and third positions, respectively.
NET CUMULATIVE FII INVESTMENTS TOUCH US$ 66 BILLION AS AT THE END OF DECEMBER 2007 :
The net investments of Foreign Institutional Investors (FIIs) in the Equity segment in India amounted to US$ 66 billion as at 31st December 2007 as against US$ 49 billion as at 31 st December 2006 showing a net increase of over 35%.
EXPORTS TOUCH USS$ 110 BILLION IN NINE MONTHS OF CURRENT FISCAL YEAR:
India ’s merchandise exports during the nine month period ended 31st December 2007 have crossed the 110 billion dollars. This has come on the back of over 25% growth in exports during each of the last 2 years.
MARKET CAPITALIZATION CROSSES US$ ONE TRILLION MARK
Indian stock market indices BSE Sensex and NSE Nifty reached new highs backed by strong corporate earnings, higher liquidity and robust economic growth. While BSE Sensex breached the 21000 mark by the end of 2007, NSE Nifty also crossed 6200 barrier for the first time.
Apart from the above mentioned significant factors, the following economic pointers also indicate healthy growth of the Indian economy without any significant problems:
GDP GROWTH RATE AT 9.3 %
The Indian economy, after growing at 9.7 per cent and 9.6 per cent in the two previous years, is estimated to have grown at 9.3 per cent in the fiscal year 2007-08. The GDP growth rate is set to decline to about 7 to 8% in the current fiscal year (2008-09) in view of recessionary trends in the global economies but significant increase in investment in the infrastructure and other areas coupled with continuously growing Information Technology sector are expected to ensure sustained GDP growth for years to come.
FISCAL & REVENUE DEFICITS FOR 2005-06 LOWER THAN EARLIER ESTIMATES & FURTHER REDUCTION PROJECTED FOR 2006-07
According to estimates for 2006-07, the revenue deficit for theyear (April 2006 to March 2007) is estimated to be only 2.6% and the fiscal deficit only 4.1% as against the earlier estimated figures of 2.7% and 4.3% respectively. According to the Budget Estimates for 2007-08, the revenue deficit is estimated at 1.5% of the GDP. The fiscal deficit is estimated at 3.3% 0f GDP. Thus, fiscal and revenue deficits have been within the manageable limits.However, with global recession affecting India, both the fiscal and revenue deficit are expected to go up for 2008-09 and this could have some impact on growth.
LOW EXTERNAL DEBT TO GNP RATIO
India has one of the lowest external debt to national income ratios globally, according to the last round of the economic survey. In fact, India ’s external debt to GNP ratio stands at 22%, while China stands at about 15%. Argentina has the highest external debt to GNP ratio of 104%. Others like Indonesia and Turkey have heavy external debt to GNP ratios. India ’s external debt is mainly in the form of long-term debt, which accounts for more than 90% of India ’s external debt, the rest is made up by short-term debt. Hence there are no chances of India turning into a basket case.
FOREX RESERVES AT A HEALTHY US$ 255 BILLION
According to the figures released by RBI, India’s total foreign exchange reserves went up to US$ 255 billion as against US$ 172 billion a year and half ago.
SIGNIFICANT EXPANSION IN NON-FOOD BANK CREDIT PORTENDS FASTER GROWTH
Non Food Bank Credit which was at US$ 368 billion as at the end of March 2006 has gone up to US$ 475 billion as at the end of March 2007 reflecting a growth of over 30% is the highest seen in a decade and the last peak of 27% was recorded way back in January 1995. This increase in non-food credit offtake portends increasing credit requirement of a growing Indian economy.
Thus, the Indian Growth Story is not only real but is also expected to be a sustained one and this fact is being recognized by global experts. It is no wonder that the Goldman Sachs in its Global Economics Paper has indicated that India is expected to become the fourth largest economy in the world by the year 2025 and the third largest economy by the year 2035. The World Investment Report 2005 released by United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on 28th September 2005 indicates that India is ranked second most attractive global business location in the World from the point of view of 81 of the world's largest transnational corporations (TNCs). The survey amongst 74 investment experts found India as the third most attractive business location. India 's high ranking is noteworthy since this was achieved despite 30% fewer responses than China 's. Further, India has displaced the US as the second-most favoured destination for foreign direct investment in the world after China in the AT Kearney FDI Confidence Index which was released in the second week of December 2005.
One may wonder whether there are any threats to this credible stunning growth story. The factors which may retard the growth of the Indian economy are the burgeoning oil price, liquidity crunch and inflation. If the crude price significantly increases further, the Indian economy, which still imports significant portion of its oil requirement, could face a large current account deficit which could have negative impact on growth. However, it is not only India but there are several countries in the world which would face similar consequences. Expected siginifacant increase in Fiscal deficit and also the current account deficit in the last few months on account of increased oil prices is expected to have negative impact on the economy. As regards liquidity, increased credit offtake and increase in interest rates indicate possibility of liquidity crunch at the later part of 2008. However, if RBI and the Government immediately take pro-active measures, the negative impact of the same on the economy could be reduced significantly. Inflation is which had increased to over 12% has now come down to 5.9% as on 29th December 2008. If India is able to overcome the potential liquidity crunch and is able to control its fiscal and revenue deficit within manageable limits, there would be no stopping of the Indian economy.