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Economic Survey 2017-18 gives the Government a Thumbs Up by Dr. Anindita Sharma

Economic Survey 2017-18 gives the Government a Thumbs Up by Dr. Anindita Sharma

Economic Survey, a review document of the annual economic development of the country is basically the assessment of the overall economic development of last budgeted year by the Finance Ministry which is presented just ahead of the Union Budget every year. The upbeat Economic Survey 2018 was tabled in the Parliament on 29th February 2018.

The scenario looks positive. The survey pegged India’s GDP growth at 7-7.5 per cent in the 2018 fiscal as it shakes off the disruptive effects of demonetisation, and the benefits of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) kick in. This is the first economic survey after two big-ticket economic reforms–Goods and Services Tax, and demonetisation (15 months from its implementation).

It points to a 50% increase in the number of indirect taxpayers after the implementation of Goods and Services Tax (GST). The chapter titled “A New, Exciting Bird’s-Eye View of the Indian Economy Through the GST” indicates that India may soon reach a steady state on GST, which has been characterised by many hiccups like multiple rate changes, return filing and procedural irritants since it kicked in from July  1 2017. There is an increase in voluntary registrations, especially by small enterprises that buy from large enterprises and want to avail Input Tax Credits (ITC), deductions for taxes already paid. As on December 2017, with 9.8 million unique GST registrants is indeed an achievement.

Demonetisation has encouraged financial savings. It has emphasized more on higher investment then higher savings. The share of financial saving is already rising in aggregate household saving – with a clear shift visible towards market instruments – a phenomenon that has been helped by demonetization,” it said.

Over the medium term, it has focused on three areas of policy stand out: employment, education and agriculture.

“Employment: finding good jobs for the young and burgeoning workforce, especially for women. Education: creating an educated and healthy labor force. Agriculture: raising farm productivity while strengthening agricultural resilience. Above all, India must continue improving the climate for rapid economic growth on the strength of the only two truly sustainable engines—private investment and exports,” it said.

The Economic Survey 2017-18 is printed in pink colour to highlight the importance of gender issues to the economy. The Survey takes into account that gender equality is an inherently multi-dimensional issue. Assessments have been made on Agency, Attitude and Outcomes which aim to reflect the status, role and empowerment of women in the society. v

The agenda for the next year consequently remains full: stabilizing the GST, completing the twin balance sheet (TBS) –banks and defaulting companies—actions, privatizing Air India, and staving off  threats to macro-economic stability. It also obliquely hinted at the need to shut down or merge struggling banks “With world growth likely to witness moderate improvement in 2018, expectation of greater stability in GST, likely recovery in investment levels, and ongoing structural reforms, among others, should be supporting higher growth. On balance, country’s economic performance should witness an improvement in 2018-19,” it said, though there was a word of caution related to rise in oil prices, a reason that may feed inflation and keep interest rates high.

But moreover all the major facts have re-instated India as the world’s fastest growing major economy, there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. The Survey observes that many of the issues that hamstrung growth in the past are getting resolved.

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Dr. Anindita is an associate professor in Jaipuria School of Business
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