Economic growth seen slowing down to 7.4% in Sept quarter
NEW DELHI: The annual economic growth probably moderated to 7.4 per cent in the July-September quarter, according to a poll of economists, weakening just as Prime Minister Narendra Modi led-government gets set for an election due by May, according to Thomson Reuters website. That is still faster than China, but a come down from the more than two-year high of 8.2 per cent set in the June quarter and some economists foresee the slowdown continuing though to the election at least. "The economy is likely to slow down in the second half of the current fiscal year (ending in March)," said A. Prasanna, chief economist at ICICI Securities Primary Dealership.
Prasanna was cautiously optimistic about the outlook, but much would depend on the election outcome, the Thomson Reuters report said. "Any signs of political uncertainty could affect market and business sentiment," he said.
Meantime, while the growth rate may look respectable, the weakening trend is worrying as the country needs growth of 8-per cent-plus to generate enough jobs for the more than 1.2 crore young Indians entering the labour force each year, added Thomson Reuters.
Having swept to power in 2014 promising to galvanise the economy, PM Modi has been criticised as even in the good quarters the unevenness of the economy has meant that growth in jobs hasn't kept pace.
The unemployment rate rose to a two-year high of 6.9 per cent in October, and 2.95 crore youth were looking for jobs, according to a report released earlier this month by Centre for Monitoring India Economy (CMIE), a think tank. Several factors conspired to hold the economy back during the middle of this year, namely; a weak rupee, and a squeeze in the shadow banking sector that hindered both investment and consumption.
At least one handicap has been removed as oil prices have come down sharply from their heights of earlier in the year, said Thomson Reuters website. But data for industrial production, vehicle sales, and tourism arrivals has made disappointing reading.
"India's growth is likely to soften in the September quarter, given the dismal consumption and investment trends following a liquidity squeeze in the shadow banking sector," said Charu Chanana, emerging Asia economist at Continuum Economics in Singapore.
The gross domestic product data will be released on Friday at 5:30 pm. The Reserve Bank of India has forecast economic growth of 7.4 per cent for the financial year ending in March, recovering from 6.7 per cent in the previous year, the slowest in four years. On Wednesday, a government panel announced a revised growth estimates that made PM Modi's administration record look better than the previous Congress-led governments, Thomson Reuters added.
Having estimated back in August that the Congress oversaw an average annual growth rate of 8.1 per cent during its decade in power, the Statistics Ministry revised that number down to 6.82 per cent for 2005/06 to 2011/12 period, putting it well below the 7.35 per cent average for the first four years of PM Modi's term.
Some economists expect economic growth could slow to around 7 per cent in the second half of the current fiscal year due to state spending cuts, muted rural demand, and the statistical impact of higher growth in the same period a year ago.