NEW DELHI — India predicted on Thursday that economic growth in the current fiscal year could rise to 7.0% from the 6.8% for the year that ended March 31, which was the slowest pace in five years.
The government’s economic survey, presented to Parliament on Thursday by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, said India will face a challenge on the fiscal front following an economic slowdown impacting tax collections amid rising state expenditure on the farm sector.
However, the investment rate was expected to pick up following improvement in consumer demand and bank lending, the report said.
“The growth in the economy is expected to pick in 2019/20 as macroeconomic conditions continue to be stable,” the finance ministry’s chief economic adviser Krishnamurthy Subramanian, the report’s main author, said.
In January-March, annual growth slumped to 5.8%, the slowest pace in 20 quarters. Growth for the financial year that ended in March already disappointed, and indicators such as plummeting industrial output and automobile sales have stoked fears of a deeper slowdown.
The survey, an annual report on the health of the economy, was released the day before Sitharaman presents the budget statement.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is widely expected to push up spending to spur economic growth through tax incentives to boost consumer demand and investment, officials of his political party said.
Modi won a second term with a landslide victory in general elections held in April and May.
A shortfall in monsoon rains, pivotal for the farm sector that constitutes about 15% of the economy, employing nearly half of India’s workers, has increased concern about rural distress and strengthened the case for government intervention.
A deepening liquidity crisis among India’s non-banking financial companies is also hurting private spending, hitting sales of everything from houses to auto parts.