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India Ratings projects economic growth at 7.1% next fiscal

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New Delhi: India Ratings and Research on Thursday projected the country’s economic growth to improve to 7.1 percent next fiscal from 6.5 percent this year, buoyed by robust consumption demand and low commodity prices.

In its outlook for 2018-19, the agency said there will be a gradual pick up in growth momentum owing to structural reforms like GST and Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC) in place.

“While the implementation of GST is likely to benefit the economy over the medium to long term, the same cannot be said about the impact of demonetisation,” India Ratings & Research (Ind-Ra), a subsidiary of Fitch Ratings, said.

 

Ind-Ra expects gross domestic product (GDP) to grow 7.1 percent year-on-year in 2018-19, it said.

The projection is a tad lower than 7.4 percent growth estimated by Asian Development Bank (ADB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) for next fiscal.

Ind-Ra said but for demonetisation and Goods and Services Tax (GST) implementation, growth would not have decelerated to 7.1 percent in 2016-17 and 6.5 percent in 2017-18.

With the global crude prices firming up, Ind-Ra expects retail and wholesale inflation to come in at 4.6 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively in 2018-19, indicating an end to the current rate cut cycle.

There is still some fuzziness with respect to the intensity and the level of its future trajectory, it said, adding that the RBI “will remain in a pause mode for an extended period of time”.

The agency said it expects fiscal deficit in 2017-18 to come in at 3.5 percent, overshooting the budgeted estimate of 3.2 percent.

“Despite 2018-19 being a pre-election year, Ind-Ra does not expect the Union Budget to be a populist budget.

However, it expects some expenditure reallocation with an increased focus on the rural and agriculture sectors,” it said.

The agency expects fiscal deficit in 2018-19 to be at 3.2 percent, higher than 3 percent stated in the medium-term fiscal policy statement.

A mix of global and domestic factors will keep the Indian rupee range bound at average Rs 66.06/USD in 2018-19, it said.


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Telecom sector may stabilise soon post-consolidation: Trai

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New Delhi: Trai chairman RS Sharma expressed hope that the telecom sector is set to achieve stability soon post consolidation and the country needs heavy investment in fibre if it is to succeed in 5G technology and services roll out.

“My sense is that the sector is going to acquire stability and looking at the examples around the world scene 3+1 (3 private players and a PSU) is a good number and I don’t see it going down from that,” Sharma said here.

The Indian telecom operators are now reduced to three -Airtel, Vodafone-Idea and Jio and BSNL-MTNL following a bloody battle on tariffs that has seen shut down of operations of many fringe telcos and merger of two big telcos to take on Reliance Jio which unleashed a free and cheap service era that catapulted India to be data consuming nation ahead of US and China combined. But in the process, the incumbent telcos have bled on revenues and profitability and have found it diffcult to even service spectrum loans.

 

While the talk of India not missing the 5G bus is loud on private telcos and the government, the Trai chairman had a word of caution — India can be a frontrunner in deployment of 5G but a lot will hinge on bolstering investments in fibre infrastructure, which is currently inadequate and trailing countries like China.

“In 5G space, we can leapfrog inadequacies which we have in physical world, all of which can be overcome with use of information and communication technologies…There is a serious concern that while people are talking of 5G as a slogan but it won’t happen unless we put a lot of investment in fibre. Without fibre, 5G will not happen. 5G is going to have important use-cases in India because it will be a platform over which all the applications will be run. But it will not happen if there is no fibre”, Sharma said. He was speaking at the India Digital Summit organised by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). At the same time, he said the investment need not just come from the TSPs (telecom service providers) it should also come from eco system companies as well.

“It is not just telecom companies that will need to invest. There are several avenues to generate investment and we are already seeing it happen now.” For instance, telecom service providers are already sharing tower. Infrastructure sharing could be one of the keys for the 5G network,” Sharma said. He said the fiberisation of the whole country is a must for the success of 5G.

India has only 22 per cent of mobile towers connected on fibre, while 78 per cent are without fibre, on wireless. China on the other hand, has 80 per cent connectivity through fibre and the rest through wireless. The optical fibre cable laid today till date is equal to optical fibre cable laid in China in one single year,” Sharma said adding fixed infrastructure will be critical for attaining a reliable and sustainable growth. Policies need to focus on promoting investments in infrastructure, he said.

“The National Digital Communications Policy (NDCP) contains those set of policies and statements and we need to operationalise those to ensure investment,” Sharma said. The new telecom policy – NDCP – aims to attract USD 100 billion investment and create four million jobs in the sector by 2022. It seeks to provide universal broadband connectivity at 50 Mbps to every citizen by 2022, and also talks of enhancing the contribution of digital communications sector to 8 per cent of India’s GDP, from the about 6 per cent now.

The TRAI chief further said there would be a need to unbundle service and infrastructure layers at some point, and fibre sharing could be one of the options in infrastructure sharing. “We think end-of-end service provisioning will not happen in 5G,” Sharma said. He further said, the connectivity problems in the country need to be solved with urgency, and regulations should not be “constrained” by the fact that only a certain set of service providers should provide a particular service. “No one should have the monopoly of providing services to people of this country, and we should solve this problem by whatever means and instruments we can deploy,” he said.

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GDP growth likely to be tad higher at 7.5 pc in FY20, says Ind-Ra

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New Delhi: The country’s economy is likely to grow a tad higher at 7.5 per cent in 2019-20 on account of steady improvement in major sectors — industry and services, said India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra).

According to the advance estimates of the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the economy may clock a growth rate of 7.2 per cent in the current financial year, up from 6.7 per cent in the previous year.

Ind-Ra, a Fitch Group company, expects gross domestic product (GDP) growth to be a “tad higher” at 7.5 per cent in fiscal 2019-20.

 

After demonetisation and the GST implementation, the agency had expected 2018-19 to be a year of quick recovery and, indeed, the recovery has been sharp with GDP growth coming in at 7.2 per cent, it said.

It further said GDP growth would have been even better but for the global headwinds caused by an abrupt rise in crude oil prices and strengthening of the US dollar, among other factors.

“However, GDP growth in 2019-20 will be more dispersed and evenly balanced across sectors as well as demand-side growth drivers,” Ind-Ra said.

Over the past few years, private final consumption expenditure and government final consumption expenditure have been the primary growth drivers of Indian economic growth.

Ind-Ra said it believes that investments are slowly but steadily gaining traction, with gross fixed capital formation growing 12.2 per cent in the current fiscal and projected to clock 10.3 per cent in the next year.

“This is certainly a comforting development, but the flip side of this development is that it is primarily driven by the government capex (capital expenditure), as incremental private corporate capex has yet to revive” it said.

It further said that due to the slowdown in private corporate and household capex, GDP growth has failed to accelerate and sustain itself close to or in excess of 8 per cent.

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India’s e-commerce curbs could hit online sales by USD 46 bn by 2022: report

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New Delhi: India’s new foreign investment restrictions for its e-commerce sector, which includes giants such as Amazon.com Inc and Walmart-owned Flipkart, could reduce online sales by $46 billion by 2022, according to a draft analysis from global consultants PwC seen by Reuters.

Under the changes, e-commerce firms in India will from Feb 1 not be able to sell products via companies in which they have an equity interest or push sellers to sell exclusively on their platforms.

Announced in December, just months before a general election due by May this year, the rules were seen as an attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government to appease millions of small traders and shopkeepers, who form a key voter base and say their businesses have been threatened by global online retailers.

 

Industry sources told Reuters the policy would delay or derail some investment plans and push companies such as Amazon and Flipkart to create new, more complex business structures.

In a private analysis PwC conducted based on estimates provided by the industry and using publicly available information, it forecast that online retail sales growth, tax collections and job creation would be severely hit if companies changed their business models to comply with the new policy.

The draft analysis has not been made public. PwC India, in response to Reuters’ questions, said it “does not endorse any of these assumptions or conclusions, nor have we conducted any independent study on this”.

“As a matter of policy, we do not comment on company specific issues,” PwC said.

The analysis produced by PwC showed that the gross-merchandise value of goods sold online could reduce by $800 million from expectations in the current fiscal year that ends in March, a document seen by Reuters showed. Then, the sales would dip drastically below previous forecasts, lopping off $45.2 billion in the next three years, the data showed.

To be sure, sales would still be growing, but at a less robust rate than envisaged before the policy change.

Online retailers often use gross merchandise value, or GMV, based on monthly online sales as a measurement of performance, as they typically make revenue from the commissions they get from sellers.

The analysis also said that by March 2022 the Indian policy could lead to the creation of 1.1 million fewer jobs than may have been previously expected and lead to a reduction in taxes collected of $6 billion.

Amazon and Flipkart have both sought an extension of the Feb 1 deadline, but a source at India’s commerce ministry told Reuters the government was unlikely to agree.

Amazon said in a statement it remains “committed to be compliant to all local laws” but has asked the government for an extension of four months.

Flipkart has sought a six-month extension, a source said. Though the company did not respond to Reuters questions, it told India’s Economic Times newspaper that it believed “an extension is appropriate” to ensure that all elements of the policy were clarified.

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