Beyond the budget
From a macro perspective, the key variable in the budget is the fiscal deficit of 5.1 per cent. Even though this is a reduction from the actual 5.9 per cent in the last fiscal year, it is predicated on a GDP growth rate of 7.6 per cent. This brings us back to the probability of achieving this growth rate. Whenever policy makers are asked how this growth will be achieved, the standard answer is — “but the fundamentals of the economy are strong, therefore...”
Of course they are strong, and just to be sure, let us list them out. First, the high consumption propensity of a vast growing middle class. This is true not just for those in the big cities but also those in the small towns and villages, and is due in large measure, to the demonstration effect percolating down from urban centres. For example, one would expect to see a large number of Mercedes, BMWs and Audis in the big cities but to find a large number of these in Ludhiana illustrates the point. Further, with television advertising all over the country, growing aspirations are on a fast track. Add to this the demographic shift towards a large, growing and literate young generation. The consumption drive, in consequence, is unstoppable.
The next fundamental is a high saving rate. It is an impressive 34 per cent, though lower than China’s. I am often asked
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