Mumbai: Prime Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (PMEAC) chairman C. Rangarajan on Thursday said he expects the Indian economy to grow by 8.5% in FY12 on the back of services sector and industry expansion, though he hinted that agriculture might not be a big contributor.
“It is my estimate that the Indian economy will grow at 8.5% in 2011-12. The growth from agriculture may not be so high, but services and industry compensate for that,” Rangarajan said at the 26th Skoch Summit in Mumbai.
However, he added, “It is prudent to aim at a growth rate between 9% and 9.5%. Pushing the economy beyond that will run into problems.”
In its monetary policy for 2011-12 released earlier, the RBI projected the economy to grow by 8% this fiscal, lower than the government’s original forecast of 9%.
On inflation, Rangarajan said, “In the early decades of independence, the argument was that inflation was endemic in economic growth and led to very steep increases in prices. We should not let that happen in the years of high growth... (We must) re-anchor the inflationary expectations to the 4-5% comfort zone.”
He also cited rising inflation as a “disturbing element”.
On food inflation, he said, “The last few months have shown a declining trend in vegetable prices and it is expected that inflation will come down in the coming months, even though it may remain at a high level for some time.”
Food inflation shot up to 8.55% for the week ended 14 May, the highest level in four weeks, as prices of fruits, cereals and protein-based items escalated.
However, he was hopeful of seeing overall inflation coming down to 6% to 6.5% by March, 2012.
For the month ended April, overall inflation came down marginally to 8.66% on the back of moderation in prices of certain food items, in line with the government’s expectations.
“The farm economy and the power sector are the two sectors which pose a major challenge in the medium term,” Rangarajan added.
He also stressed upon the need to reduce the current account deficit to 2.5% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, saying, “Over a longer period of time, we need to keep the current account deficit at 2.5% of the GDP. We should strive to maintain the fiscal deficit at 4.6% even if it entails cutting subsidy.”
The country’s current account deficit stands at around 3%. The fiscal deficit has been projected at 4.6% of the GDP in the 2011-2012 Budget.
On the environment versus growth debate, Rangarajan said, “At our present stage of development, we can not afford to sacrifice growth. Growth is an important factor in generating employment and reducing poverty. It is key to improving the living standards of our people.”