BUSINESS

India's 7.5% Growth Rate May Be Overstated: US

06/07/2016 1:07 PM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:27 AM IST
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An Indian farmer carries mustard crop after harvest at Kanachak village, outskirts of Jammu, India, Monday, Feb.29, 2016. India pledged Monday to invest billions of dollars to improve the lives of farmers and boost the rural economy, drive consumer demand and stimulate growth. Finance Minister Arun Jaitely proposed spending nearly $13 billion on rural development, promising higher incomes for farmers who form the majority of India's 1.2 billion people.(AP Photo/Channi Anand)

Underlining that India's 7.5 per cent growth rate may be "overstated", the US has said the Narendra Modi government has been "slow" to match its rhetoric in economic reforms even as it appreciated measures taken by it in areas like bureaucracy and easing FDI restrictions.

Highly appreciative of the series of economic reforms, in particular streamlining bureaucratic decision making and raising FDI limits in certain sectors, US State Department in a report said yesterday, the Modi government has been slow to propose other economic reforms that would match its rhetoric.

Noting that many of the reforms it did propose have struggled to pass through Parliament, the report "Investment Climate Statements for 2016" said that this has resulted in many investors retreating slightly from their once forward-leaning support of the BJP-led government.

For example, the government failed to muster sufficient political support on a land acquisition bill in Parliament all but ending its chance of passage in the near term and is still negotiating with opposition parties the details of a Goods and Services Tax Bill, which if not watered down in negotiations, could streamline India's convoluted tax structure and provide an immediate boost to GDP.

"Ostensibly, India is one of the fastest growing countries in the world, but this depressed investor sentiment suggests the approximately 7.5 per cent growth rate may be overstated, said the report produced by the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs of the State Department.

There are few quick fixes to the structural impediments, poor regulatory environment, tax and policy uncertainty, infrastructure bottlenecks, localization requirements, restrictions in many services sectors, and massive shortages of electricity that hinder India's economic growth potential, it said.

Recognizing that the gains from a massive, positive terms-of-trade shock due to lower oil prices that India has benefited from may not be repeated in the current global economic environment, the Finance Ministry has slightly reduced the official growth outlook for next year, it said.

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