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Small, medium firms were limping back when GST added to pain: Stakeholders (Note Ban Series)

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Small, medium firms were limping back when GST added to pain: Stakeholders (Note Ban Series)

New Delhi, November 3, 2017: The backbone of India’s manufacturing sector — micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) — had not yet recovered from the demonetisation move when the Goods and Services Tax (GST) came in to add to the pain, according to industry stakeholders.

“The base of the MSME pyramid is comprised of informal sector, which has traditionally done business in cash. With withdrawal of cash, this market seized up for a quarter or so. They (MSMEs) are limping back to normality,” Anil Bhardwaj, Secretary General, Federation of Indian Micro and Small and Medium Enterprises (FISME), told IANS.

“The recovery is slow because of the new disruption in the form of GST. In the short term, there could be loss of business opportunities because of lack of capital in the informal markets,” he said.

Bhardwaj said that the housing sector, which had more than 60 product categories linked to MSMEs, was drastically hit, both directly and indirectly.

According to D.S. Rawat, Secretary General of Assocham, except for some payment gateways, most of the sectors lost out.

“The impact of demonetisation would have evaporated, but the GST roll-out issues are being braved by some sectors, particularly the SMEs and the traders,” Rawat told IANS.

In the Economic Watch report by Ernst & Young for September 2017, demonetisation has been blamed for an adverse impact on the economy in the short run, as its “benefits are yet to overtake” the costs.

“The government and people at large did have to bear considerable costs in the immediate aftermath of demonetisation. Some of these costs may be difficult to quantify, but objective evidence of the short-term costs is available in at least some important dimensions,” the report said.

“There was an erosion of growth, output and employment,” it added.

The overall economic growth is still contested, however, as some argue that the downward spiral in gross domestic product (GDP) growth preceded demonetisation.

“Though the GDP growth has been lower post the exercise, it will not be fair to conclude that demonetisation was the only factor responsible for this. The growth had started slowing right after the third quarter of 2016-17 and the trend continued post-November as well,” said Ranen Banerjee, Partner-Public Finance, Economics and Urban, at PwC India.

Others like the EY’s report indicate that demonetisation resulted in a “tangible adverse impact” on GDP growth.

“Real GDP growth has been falling steadily quarter after quarter since the fourth quarter of FY16, when it was nine per cent. It fell to 5.7 per cent in first quarter FY18, a decrease of 3.3 percentage points,” the report pointed out.

“The two quarters that can be considered as the demonetisation quarters in FY17 were the third quarter of FY17 and fourth quarter of FY17. In these two quarters, the GDP growth rate fell to seven per cent and 6.1 per cent, respectively.”

It mentioned that the downward trend in growth preceded demonetisation and was largely caused by an investment slowdown.

On the industrial production front, in December 2016, the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) had contracted by 0.4 per cent from a 13-month high of 5.7 per cent reported for November.

However, it rose 2.7 per cent in January 2017. The latest IIP figures for August showed that factory output grew 4.3 per cent against the same month last year on the back of robust mining and electricity sector growth.

According to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation, manufacturing output in the country in July 2017 had grown marginally by 1.2 per cent.

“The event clearly pushed the economy towards a higher degree of digitisation and financial inclusion. Accordingly, the digital finance sector seems to have gotten a push while over the longer term financial services should be the biggest gainer,” said Anis Chakravarty, Lead Economist, Deloitte.

(Rohit Vaid can be reached at rohit.v@ians.in)

(Editors: The above article is part of a series of demonetisation stories leading up to November 8)

–(IANS)

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PM Modi Advises Scientists To Use Science to Improve Lives

PM Narendra Modi tells Scientists to use science to improve the lives of citizens

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Modi advises Scientists
Prime Minister Modi tells scientists that science and technology should be used to bettering the lives of citizens. Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called upon scientists to take up challenges in their research for bettering the daily lives of common citizens, especially farmers, help in reaching clean drinking water, solar power to the people, and solving problems such as pollution.

Highlighting the importance of ‘science for society’, Modi said when all “scientists, all citizens, will move forward with this understanding, both the country and mankind will be benefited”.

“To know the connection between science and society, we have to give answers to some questions. Everybody knows the pollution problem due to increased use of plastic. Can our scientists take up the challenge to come up with saleable and cost effective material which can take the place of plastic?” the Prime Minister asked while inaugurating the India International Science Festival through video conferencing from Delhi.

Indian PM Narendra Modi
PM Narendra Modi highlights the importance of ‘Science for Society’. Wikimedia Commons

Modi exhorted scientists assembled from India and abroad for the mega event whether they can take up the challenge to find a better way to store energy or electricity.

“Can we get a solution so that the use of solar power can go up, can we come up with an innovation related to battery and other infrastructure to reach electric mobility to the common man?

“Have we thought of doing something in our lab which can improve the lives of crores of people? Can we find a solution to local drinking water problems and reach clean drinking water to the people?” he asked.

Also Read-Vietnam and Australia to Start Collaborating on Science Initiatives

Modi also urged scientists to ponder over whether they can invent something which would cut down healthcare cost, and benefit peasants by increasing their income.

“We have to think how use of science can help in easing the lives of the people,” he said. (IANS)