India to Grow at 5.3 % in Current Fiscal: Industry Body

Ahead of the Economic Survey, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) on Tuesday lowered its GDP growth forecast for the current fiscal, pegging India's economic expansion rate at 5.3 per cent compared to its 5.5 per cent previous estimate.

This is mainly due to bleak prospects for performance of the agriculture sector due to sub-par monsoon forecast.

"FICCI's latest Economic Outlook Survey puts across the GDP growth estimate for the year 2014-15 at 5.3 per cent, with a minimum and a maximum range of 4.9 per cent and 5.8 per cent," a statement said.

The survey forecasts fiscal deficit to GDP ratio at 4.5 per cent in 2014-15, breaching the target of 4.1 per cent set in the interim budget.

The survey pegs industrial growth for 2014-15 at 3.1 per cent and agriculture growth at 2.1 per cent.

Further, services sector growth is expected at 7 per cent, marginally higher than 6.8 per cent recorded in 2013-14.

On the inflation front, participating economists expect prices to remain beyond the comfort zone, expecting the El Nino effect to fuel inflationary pressure going ahead, FICCI said.

On dealing with the price situation, the economists felt that the government has little choice but to strengthen supply side infrastructure and pointed out the immediate need to ease distortions in supply of food articles from farm to market.

Elaborating on the measures to boost economic growth, the survey respondents asked for a clear roadmap for roll out of Goods and Services Tax and review of the Direct Tax Code with a view to widen the tax base and rationalising exemptions.

It also asked the government to chart out a path to contain subsidies and switch the focus from non-plan to plan expenditure, while putting across a roadmap for disinvestment.

Besides, it recommended firming up the growth in the manufacturing sector to aid employment generation and to boost infrastructure spending, along with faster implementation of stuck projects.

On the measures to widen India's tax net, participating economists said steps should be taken to bring more people within the ambit of formal employment and widening the tax base should be given a priority.

They felt that segments currently outside the scope of tax net despite being at much higher incomes should be brought under purview of taxation.

The economists also said that greater clarity on issues like General Anti Avoidance Rules (GAAR) and retrospective taxation must be provided in the upcoming budget.

Besides, the economists termed setting up of a specialised asset management company for acquiring large scale non-preforming assets as a good move, saying it will help improve the financial health of the banks.

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