Interim Budget 2014
The current economic situation
2. As I prepared to write this speech, I found that whether it is a regular Budget for the full year or an interim Budget, some things remain the same. For example, our goals are the same and the global context is the same. As I said last year, we are not unaffected by what happens in the rest of the world. Since September 2008, the state of the world economy has been the most decisive factor impacting the fortunes of every developing country. Hence, it is pertinent to say a few words on the global economy as well as on the global risks.
3. World economic growth was 3.9 percent in 2011, 3.1 percent in 2012 and 3.0 percent in 2013. Those numbers tell the story. Among India’s major trading partners, who are also the major sources of our foreign capital inflows, the United States has just recovered from a long recession; Japan’s economy is responding to the stimulus; the Eurozone, as a whole, is reporting a growth of 0.2 percent; and China’s growth has slowed from 9.3 percent in 2011 to 7.7 percent in 2013.
4. The Global Risks 2014 report has mapped 31 global risks. Of highest concern are ten risks that include fiscal crisis, structurally high unemployment or underemployment, income disparity, governance failure, food crisis, and political and social instability. The challenges that we face are common to all emerging economies. 2012 and 2013 were years of turbulence. Only a handful of countries were able to keep their head above the water, and among them was India. I shall presently give you an account of how we navigated the Indian economy through this turbulent period.
Challenges and goals
5. Within days of my return to the Ministry of Finance, I had declared that our objectives were fiscal consolidation, price stability, self-sufficiency in food, reviving the growth cycle, enhancing investments, promoting manufacturing, encouraging exports, quickening the pace of implementation of projects, and finding practical solutions to certain stressed sectors such as petroleum, power, coal, highways and textiles.
STATE OF THE ECONOMY
The twin deficits and inflation
6. Let me begin with the good news. The fiscal deficit for 2013-14 will be contained at 4.6 percent of GDP, well below the red line that I had drawn last year. More importantly, the Current Account Deficit, that threatened to exceed last year’s CAD of USD 88 billion, will be contained at USD 45 billion, and I am happy to inform the House that we expect to add about USD 15 billion to the foreign exchange reserves by the end of the financial year. Analysts and rating agencies had acknowledged our efforts some months ago and no longer speak about a downgrade. I hope that domestic experts will now agree that the UPA Government meant what it said when it put fiscal stability at the top of the agenda. Going forward, I appeal to all political parties to join me in the pledge that we shall not – we shall never – do anything that will affect the stability of the foundations of India’s economy.
7. Last year, when I read the Budget speech, WPI headline inflation stood at 7.3 percent and core inflation at 4.2 percent. Through the year, inflation saw its ups and downs. At the end of January 2014, WPI inflation was 5.05 percent and core inflation 3.0 percent. Both the Government and the RBI have acted in tandem. While our efforts have not been in vain, there is still some distance to go. Food inflation is still the main worry, although it has declined sharply from a high of 13.6 percent to 6.2 percent.
8. We are proud of the stellar performance of the agriculture sector. Foodgrain production in 2012-13 was 255.36 million tonnes and the estimate for the current year is 263 million tonnes. Estimates of production of sugarcane, cotton, pulses, oilseeds and quality seeds point to new records. Agriculture exports in 2012-13 stood at USD 41 billion versus imports of USD 20 billion. In 2013-14, agriculture exports are likely to cross USD 45 billion. Agricultural credit is likely to touch Rs. 735,000 crore, exceeding the target of Rs. 700,000 crore. Agricultural GDP growth increased to 3.1 percent in the five year period of
UPA-I and further to 4.0 percent in the first four years of UPA-II. In the current year, agricultural GDP growth is estimated at 4.6 percent.
9. Even after the slowdown, the savings rate was 31.3 percent in 2011-12 and 30.1 percent in 2012-13. The corresponding investment rate was 35.5 percent and 34.8 percent, respectively, indicating there was no steep decline in investment, except in mining and manufacturing. If the incremental capital output ratio (ICOR) had remained more or less the same, the outcome should have been a growth rate higher than the 6.7 percent and the 4.5 percent reported so far by the CSO for the two years, but that did not happen. It was obvious that projects were not achieving commercial operation date (COD) and there were too many obstacles on the path of implementation. At a time when it appeared that a number of projects would fail because of the logjam, Government took the bold step to set up the Cabinet Committee on Investment and the Project Monitoring Group. Thanks to the swift decisions taken by them, by the end of January, 2014, the way was cleared for completing 296 projects with an estimated project cost of Rs. 660,000 crore.
10. Exports have recovered sharply, and the recovery must be seen in the context of growth of global trade declining from 6.1 percent in 2011 to 2.7 percent in 2013. India’s merchandise exports reached a level of USD 300.4 billion in 2012-13 registering a negative growth of 1.8 percent over the previous year. Though 2013-14 began on a pessimistic note, I am happy to inform the House that the year will end with estimated merchandise exports of USD 326 billion, indicating a growth rate of 6.3 percent. However, imports are down, and this does not augur well for either manufacturing or domestic trade. Our aim must be robust growth in both exports and imports, with trade in balance over a period of time.
11. Manufacturing is the Achilles’ heel of the Indian economy. The deceleration in investment in manufacturing is particularly worrying. Consequently, there is no uptick yet in manufacturing. The National Manufacturing Policy has set the goal of increasing the share of manufacturing in GDP to 25 percent and to create 100 million jobs over a decade. Eight National Investment and Manufacturing Zones (NIMZ) have been announced along the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and nine projects have been approved by the DMIC Trust. Five NIMZs outside DMIC have also been given in-principle approval. Three more corridors connecting Chennai and Bengaluru, Bengaluru and Mumbai, and Amritsar and Kolkata are under different stages of preparatory work. Additional capacities are being installed in major manufacturing industries such as steel, cement, refinery, power and electronics. Several measures have been taken to promote micro, small and medium enterprises including notifying a public procurement policy, establishing technology centres and common facility centres, and launching the Khadi mark.
12. We have given a big push to infrastructure and capacity addition in infrastructure industries. In 2012-13 and in the nine months of the current financial year, we have added 29,350 megawatts of power capacity, 3,928 kilometres of national highways, 39,144 kilometres of rural roads under PMGSY, 3,343 kilometres of new railway track, and 217.5 million tonnes of capacity per annum in our ports. Besides, 19 oil and gas blocks were given out for exploration and 7 new airports are under construction. We have also facilitated Infrastructure Debt Funds to provide take-out finance for infrastructure projects and ease the pressure on the banking system.
13. Risks to capital flows were accentuated due to volatile global conditions and the indication, in May 2013, of a reduction in asset purchases by the US Federal Reserve. The rupee came under pressure. Government, RBI and SEBI undertook a number of measures to facilitate capital inflows and stabilise the foreign exchange market. Among emerging economy currencies, the rupee was affected least when the actual reduction took place in December 2013 and January 2014.
GDP growth – decline and rise
14. Hon’ble Members will recall that the slowdown began in 2011-12. In nine quarters, the GDP growth rate declined from 7.5 percent in Q1 of 2011-12 to 4.4 percent in Q1 of 2013-14. Thanks to the numerous measures that I have narrated, I was confident that the decline will be arrested and the growth cycle will turn in the second quarter. I believe I have been vindicated. Growth in Q2 of 2013-14 has been placed at 4.8 percent and growth for the whole year has been estimated at 4.9 percent. This means that growth in Q3 and Q4 of 2013-14 will be at least 5.2 percent.
15. I can confidently assert that the economy is more stable today than what it was two years ago. The fiscal deficit is declining, the current account deficit has been contained, inflation has moderated, the quarterly growth rate is on the rise, the exchange rate is stable, exports have increased, and hundreds of projects have been unblocked.
16. Madam Speaker, all this is the result of hard work. I may add, among other mentors, my mother and Harvard taught me the value of hard work.