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As per Assocham, the Indian economy may reach 7% in 2018

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As per Assocham, the Indian economy may reach 7% in 2018.
As per Assocham, the Indian economy may reach 7% in 2018. IANS
  • Because of demonitisation, the economy may reach 7% in 2018: Assocham
  • Inflation may range between 4-5.5 per cent towards the second half of the next calendar year
  • Assocham expects the forthcoming Union Budget to be “heavily tilted” towards the farmers

New Delhi, Dec 24, 2017: With government policies set to tilt more towards the “stress-ridden rural landscape” next year in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Indian economy may reach a 7 per cent growth in 2018 while recovering from the lingering effects of demonetisation and GST, industry chamber Assocham said on Sunday.

“After ‘disruptions’ from the lingering effects of demonetisation and GST roll-out, the Indian economy may reach a 7 per cent growth in 2018 with government policies tilting towards the stress-ridden rural landscape in the penultimate year before the Lok Sabha elections,” according to the industry body’s “Year-Ahead Outlook”.

“Against GDP growth of 6.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2017-18, the economic expansion may reach the crucial 7 per cent mark by the end of September 2018 quarter, while inflation may range between 4-5.5 per cent towards the second half of the next calendar year with the monsoon being a key imponderable,” it said.

Assocham President Sandeep Jajodia said the projections were based on the assumption of stability in government policies, good monsoons, pick-up in industrial activity and credit growth as also stability in the foreign exchange rates.

“The worries on account of crude oil shooting up are likely to abate, if there are no fresh geo-political shockers.”

According to the Assocham outlook, while the underlying bullish sentiment should continue to prevail in the Indian stock market in 2018, the returns on equity may not be as robust as in 2017.

“This is because the 2017 bull run has already factored in the return of growth steadiness in 2018 and the corporate earnings witnessing a pick-up,” it said.

The industry lobby said in the run-up to state assembly elections in several politically important states, the political economy is set to tilt towards the farm sector “which has been witnessing some stress”.

“The stress in the agriculture sector is traceable to lack of reforms in the rural economy. Despite political promises, several of the states have not been able to reform the APMC Act, which restricts farmers to sell their produce to a particular set of cartels.”

Assocham expects the forthcoming Union Budget to be “heavily tilted” towards the farmers while the industrial focus would be on sectors which create jobs.

“A realisation seems to be dawning that growth per se is not enough, the benefits must be seen in the form of higher employment. The year 2018 would see policies in this direction”, the statement added. (IANS)

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New Locust Swarms Threaten Agriculture in Ethiopia

New Swarms of Locusts Threaten Crops, Food Security in Ethiopia

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Locust Ethiopia
An Ethiopian boy attempts to fend off desert locust as they fly in a farm on the outskirt of Jijiga in Somali region, Ethiopia. VOA

A new round of locust swarms has hit Ethiopia and is again threatening crops and food security, say agricultural officials.

Dereje Hirpha, the Oromia region’s head of locust control, tells VOA’s Horn of Africa Service that the new generation of locusts was first reported weeks ago in the Raya district and has since spread across thousands of hectares in 40 districts of the region.

The fast-moving swarm is threatening crops in a country where more than 80 percent of the population depends on agriculture for its livelihood.

Locust Outbreak
A Samburu boy uses a wooden stick to try to swat a swarm of desert locust filling the air, as he herds his camel. VOA

Similar locusts wave hit Ethiopia a year ago.  The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has said it believes heavy rainfall in East Africa has contributed to the growth of locust swarms in the area.

This new generation is arriving from Somaliland, while breeding has continued on both sides of the Red Sea, and in Sudan and Eritrea, according to experts.

USAID plans to work with the U.N. Food  and Agriculture Organization to prevent and control the spread of locusts, its office of communication says.  The agency is training more than 300 pest experts and providing 5,000 sets of protective equipment for locust fighters.

Hirpha says authorities are spraying the affected areas from planes and vehicles on the ground to ward off the pests.

Locals, meanwhile, are engaged in their own combat operation.  When a locust swarm approaches, residents try to scare them away by blowing whistles, drumming empty buckets, setting fires, and shooting into the air.

Locust chasers take position in green areas to disperse the swarms before the descend.

Locust Ethiopia
A man tries to catch locust while standing on a rooftop. VOA

“From a distance the swarm looks like a brown cloud, a sandstorm,” says Sora Kura, one of the chasers in the Borana zone.

The swarm follows the wind direction and is also guided by hairy antenna on their heads that detect smells and other signals of food, Hirpha says. According to the FAO, the swarms can move up to 150 kilometers per day.

USAID says the swarms will likely spread next to southwest Ethiopia and northwestern Kenya, and may enter Uganda and South Sudan.

Desert locusts can comfortably live in a warm, sandy environment like Eastern Ethiopia and Somaliland, Hirpha says.

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Ethiopia has to report any assessment of the crops lost to the pests.  In 2003 and 2005, locust outbreaks in more than 20 countries, mainly in North Africa, cost farmers $3.6 billion, according to the FAO. (VOA)