The economic recovery is likely to be broad-based and more durable in the next financial year as Covid-battered micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), informal industries and contact-intensive services see a pick-up in capital investments and healthier balance sheets due to revival in demand, say economists. The resurgent Omicron variant, persisting shortages and bottlenecks, and worldwide divergence in policy stances due to inflationary pressures remain a concern, they say.
“While we are watchful of the economic impact of global spread of Omicron, we are cautiously optimistic economic recovery in India will be more durable and broad-based in the coming year,” said Aditi Nayar, chief economist, Icra NSE 0.37 %.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected an 8.5% growth for India in FY23 in its October review last year. Overall economic growth is likely to be impressive in the current financial year, statistically boosted by the low base of 7.3% contraction in FY21. The Reserve Bank of India has forecast a 9.5% real GDP growth in the current fiscal, which should be a 1.6% rise over pre-Covid FY20.
“We also expect broad-basing of growth, with rising contributions from the services sector. Government support has put investments on a stronger footing vis-a-vis private consumption, which is currently fragile,” said Dharmakirti Joshi, chief economist, Crisil.
Next fiscal could see both investments and consumption drive growth, with exports providing a helping hand. Rising consumption will push capacity utilisation above the crucial threshold of 75% by the end of 2022, which should trigger a broadbased pickup in private sector investment activity, said Nayar. Private consumption — the biggest GDP component — rose by over 8.6% in the second quarter of the fiscal but is yet to cross pre-Covid levels. If the economic recovery continues, private consumption is expected to rebound, too.
An expected solid expansion in taxes will allow the government to prioritise growth-enhancing capital spending, which is also expected to crowd in private investment. The new tech ecosystem, asset monetisation and expansion of productionlinked scheme are among key drivers that could offset the potential demand slowdown.
The rapid advance of Omicron in the metros remains a concern as it could disrupt the economic recovery. However, economists are optimistic that its impact would not be so severe amid indications that the variant may spread faster but is not likely to be as damaging as earlier ones.
“Omicron as a wildcard entry has tilted risks to outlook downwards.
Experience tells us that successive waves, even if they overwhelm the health infrastructure, are less damaging to the economy,” said Joshi. Other risks that could weigh on growth include actions of the US Federal Reserve and other central banks, and domestic inflation dynamics. A rapid rise in US interest rates could disrupt financial markets.
“Rising input prices (WPI) is bound to find its reflection on retail prices (CPI). This, along with higher deficit, will increase interest. However, exports is a ray of hope, said Devendra Pant, chief economist, India Ratings.
Economists ET spoke to expect RBI to raise the repo rate by 50 basis points starting next financial year. Another concern is high crude and commodities prices, which could cause a faster-than-expected rise in interest rates if inflation accelerates.