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10 Things Government Can Do To Raise The GDP Growth

Growth has momentum and slowdown has inertia

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There is concern about the speed and nature of the government and industry's response, and will these actions turnaround things immediately, or not. Pixabay

BY K YATISH RAJAWAT

Growth has momentum and slowdown has inertia. The Indian GDP growth has fallen to 5 per cent in the April-June quarter, from 8 per cent. This slowdown can only be reversed if both short-term and long-term reforms are undertaken.

The fall in GDP growth is sudden and dramatic. Till now, while only businesses were talking about the slowdown, it is now a reality for the country. People worry about how bad things are and is this bottom or the beginning of a slowdown.

There is concern about the speed and nature of the government and industry’s response, and will these actions turnaround things immediately, or not.

These concerns and perceptions need answers as they affect consumer confidence and consumption. Acknowledging the problem is not a sign of weakness or acceptance of any blame. It’s a fact that leadership in the corporate sector has failed to recognize the major transition taking place in their sector that has affected consumer demand.

Sectoral collapse has happened because of poor business decisions in banking, real estate, construction and lately in non-banking finance companies (NBFCs)/housing finance companies (HFCs). Now all these sectors are looking for stimulus packages to bail them out from their mistakes.

GDP, Economy, Government
Stacks of Myanmar kyat are seen on the counter before a client collects them, at a bank in Yangon, Myanmar October 19, 2015. IANS

Take the auto sector, for example. It did not prepare for shifts in consumer behaviour and market needs. They contribute almost 6 per cent to the GDP and offer employment to 37 million people and are clamouring for stimulus on behalf of their employees.

The stimulus has to be for both employees and corporates. The sector is asking stimulus to protect jobs, but it does not mean it will happen as they move to electric vehicles (EV).

EVs have a fraction of moving parts as compared to an internal combustion engine. The engine and drive line are two crucial components of the internal combustion engine that contribute 50 per cent of the auto component industries’ revenues. The move to EV will disrupt the supply chain of components at one end and maintenance and repair on the other. This needs specific incentives to upskill employees to maintain, repair or make electric vehicles.

Upskilling of mid-level workers is the core component of all sectoral stimulus packages. The disruption in industries is not cyclical or because of economic slowdown. There is a structural shift in many industries because of technology or shift in consumer preferences. Automation is affecting jobs in both manufacturing and services, which displacement is also affecting the consumption cycle.

The stimulus for auto companies has to promote investment. India needs an investment of $40 billion in batteries for EVs. Auto companies can get incentives for making this investment. They can be incentives to shift existing production lines to electric cars.
These are, however, palliative measures and will not turnaround the economy The bigger issue is revival of consumption demand.

The government has had discussions with several sections of business and economists over the last few weeks. It has plucked out all the prickly issues which created a negative perception and eroded trust. But if a tyre is losing air pressure removing nails from the road ahead will not stop the air from leaking.

Action has to inspire confidence among consumers to spend and for industry to invest. Removing taxation on foreign portfolio investor and other prickly issues is a hygiene factor. It shows the government is correcting mis-steps faster. Addressing it within a week, which the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman did shows the speed of response.

This is important as it will bring back the confidence in the industry, investors and market. But the confidence to spend or even pay EMIs has to be restored.

It is equally important to set the right expectations for a return to normalcy or a turnaround in growth. The massive mandate this government received shows the expectation of the common man. Not setting the expectation right or distorting the timelines will not serve to inspire consumer confidence. People are pragmatic and patient if they understand the time it will take to come out of the current situation. They know there are no shortcuts out of slowdowns.

GDP, economy, Government
Both merger and governance reforms were important but are obviously not sufficient from the slowdown point of view. Pixabay

The current initiatives are either short-term measures or long-term reforms. The consolidation of Public Sector Banks (PSBs) announced on August 30, falls into the latter category. It will not turnaround the banking sector, ease the credit flow or even improve the transmission of interest cuts — the three most important problems contributing to the slowdown. The consolidation will take time.

The consolidation of the PSBs is a structural reform much needed, long overdue and may reduce the recapitalisation requirements. The governance reforms will improve the process of supervision, hiring and compensation. It will not change the credit evaluation, disbursement and monitoring of loans, which is the core problem in PSBs.

The culture of poor evaluation of borrowers and lack of risk mitigation has contributed to the non-performing asset (NPA) mess in the PSBs. This culture cannot vanish overnight as it’s entrenched in processes and behaviour.

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Banking leadership can use the disruption to overhaul the culture and build a new system and processes. If they get sucked into the merger and take their eyes off credit growth, customer retention, their merged entity will be weaker than the sum of the parts.

Both merger and governance reforms were important but are obviously not sufficient from the slowdown point of view.

To kick-start the consumption cycle money has to go into the common man’s pocket. This can happen by reducing income tax for the lowest slab, as recommended by the Direct Tax Code report. It can be done by making GST filing quarterly for MSMEs with less than Rs 10 crore turnover to ensure they survive the slowdown. The GST Council can look at reducing rate slabs and reduce the overall burden on corporates.

Immediate steps:
. Give auto sector incentives to invest and shift to electric vehicles
. Incentives to auto sector employees to upskill on electric vehicles
. Change GST collection to quarterly for companies below Rs 1 crore
. Reduce the GST slab rates
. Adopt the Direct Tax Code, cut income tax for the bottom slab
. Improve credit flow to both consumer and industry
. Reduce real interest rates by 135 basis points as cost of capital has to come down
. Change the credit culture in public sector banks
. Stimulus should drive investment, upskilling for displaced employees
. Factor market reforms, including bringing the cost of land down. (IANS)

Next Story

Jewar International Airport to be a Growth Catalyst in the Region

Jewar Airport expected to create infra, generate jobs

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Jewar airport
The Jewar international airport is expected to increase the employment rate in the region. (Representational Image). Lifetime Stock

BY ROHIT VAID

The upcoming International Airport at the Jewar township of Greater Noida is expected to be a growth catalyst for the region, say industry analysts, as the project is expected to create urban infrastructure and generate jobs.

Accordingly, experts have predicted the project to not only boost the aviation industry but also a host of other sectors such as real estate, hospitality, tourism, transportation and construction.

“Jewar Airport will provide an impetus to the real estate sector in Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway,” JLL India’s Chief Economist Research and REIS Samantak Das told IANS.

“Real estate developers and corporates will be encouraged to invest in commercial real estate in the region. It would lead to a jump in investment and infrastructural development leading to rising in demand for both residential and commercial properties.”

Jewar airport project
Experts have predicted the Jewar international airport project to not only boost the aviation industry but also a host of other sectors. (Representational Image). Lifetime Stock

Additionally, Das pointed out that apart from residential, commercial and residential segment, the demand for logistics and warehousing sector is expected to get a boost by development of Jewar Airport.

“It will also lead to growth in manufacturing and exports sector. Since the region is also near to tourist attractions such as Taj Mahal, Mathura, the tourism sector will also be positively impacted by the development of the airport,” Das said.

ANAROCK Property Consultants’ Vice Chairman Santhosh Kumar, said: “As far as job creation and value addition is concerned, the project will definitely give a major boost in the future.

“But again, this also depends on actual ground implementation of the project. As and when the project progresses, it will help revive the property market in nearby areas like Noida, Greater Noida and Yamuna Expressway.”

Besides, Kumar expects the new airport to increase demand for the housing sector and even lead to an uptick in terms of commercial activities including office spaces and retail.

“More and more office spaces will erupt along the region as rentals will be relatively cheaper than Gurgaon and even Delhi,” he said.

Aviation industry insiders, including airline executives, said that the new airport, once fully developed, will aid in decongesting the Delhi’s IGI Airport.

“It will definitely expand the reach of air services to a larger population base of the NCR region,” an airline management executive told IANS.

Locals of the Jewar township told IANS that they expect more employment opportunities arising out of the airport development.

Jewar international airport
Aviation industry insiderssaid that the new airport, once fully developed, will aid in decongesting the Delhi’s IGI Airport. (Representational Image). Pixabay

“Future generations will be able to reap more employment opportunities as a direct result of the airport development,” Ashok Kumar, a resident of Ranhera village of Jewar township told IANS.

“Employment opportunities in transport and hospitality sectors are being scouted even by the current working generation.”

However, others like Naipal Singh of Rohi village, though supportive of the project is not satisfied with the compensation given by the state government for acquisition of his land parcel for the airport project.

Last month, Zurich Airport International AG was selected as the concessionaire for developing the airport at Jewar.

The company, headquartered in Switzerland, made the highest per-passenger bid for the airport. The Swiss company operates the Zurich Airport, and eight airports in Latin America.

“Under a 40-year concession, the Flughafen Zurich AG will build and manage the new greenfield airport in Jewar. The new airport will be located around 80 km south of Delhi and will be fundamental to accommodate the expected flight traffic growth rates in the National Capital Region,” the company had said.

“The capital investment associated with the first phase is expected to amount to roughly CHF (Swiss francs) 650 million during the construction period of approximately four years. The first phase will be able to accommodate around 12 million passengers per year,” it added.

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The Noida International Airport will come up in a 5,000-hectare area and is estimated to cost around Rs 30,000 crore.

The first phase of the airport will be spread over 1,334 hectares and cost Rs 4,588 crore. It is expected to be completed by 2023. (IANS)