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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

9% FOR 2009 ? I HOPE WE CAN.........

The New Year for the Indian economy is an uncertain one. The highs that the markets reached a year ago have inadvertently led to the lows that it finds itself in. The euphoria from the Bull Run that lasted for four years has been wiped away in a matter of twelve months and has given birth to a Bear Market not seen in over half a century. For the Finance Department, getting the economy on track remains priority number one. In one sense it’s a good thing that India has not crept into a recession but the fact does remain that the magical growth rate of 9% will somehow not be that easy to achieve.
If 2009 was just another year then we could perhaps expect the government to finely balance the need of public sector units and private industry needs. A balancing act that has worked well for sometime in the past. The spanner in the works is the General Election of 2009.
An event where the world’s largest democracy will go to polls. For most parts the issue that is the incumbent point of contention is the one of Internal Security even more after the Mumbai terrorist attacks .In such a case other issues like the economy are being pushed aside. Perhaps the overwhelming sentiment for the Indian government is to somehow stay in power. The Rhetoric of anti terrorism is one way of winning seats.
From an economic point of view it’s hurting the country not to have a full time Finance Minister. With the Prime Minister also handling the Finance Portfolio, much of the finance work is being performed by senior bureaucrats of the government. With a very important Union Budget coming up in less than two months time the question that should be asked is will the finance department deliver a mini-budget to tide things over till the general election or will it deliver a full scale budget that addresses important issues?
There is also the question of growth for 2009.As said before a 9% growth is not achievable but the task of stimulating growth is paramount. In this aspect the government needs to make sure that interest rates come down for private players so that their projects aren’t stonewalled. At the same time if the rate cuts do not reflect appropriately in cheaper rates for average consumers then the problem will not have been fully solved.
Inflation is one area that seems to be under control but much of this too has come from consumers going into a saving shell. The drop in the price of crude oil has also helped the Indian economy to curb inflation as it is an importer of oil.
Were the trends to be reversed, will the Indian economy still be able to control inflation?
There are clearly many sectors that have been hit by the economic crisis of 2008.Real Estate, Infrastructure, Banking, Outsourcing and the like. Much of 2009 will be spent in cleaning up the mess of 2008.
In that sense it might not be such a Happy New Year after all.

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