Freefalling Indian rupee poses opportunities for country, says IMF

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Rupee is able to depreciate without too much drama, and this by itself should help to reduce imports and increase exports, says a former IMF chief economist. Rupee is able to depreciate without too much drama, and this by itself should help to reduce imports and increase exports, says a former IMF chief economist.
SummaryBut IMF spokesman refused to speculate on any support or program need of India from the agency.

The unprecedented slide of Indian rupee to US dollar poses both challenges and opportunities for India, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said. "The current situation presents a challenge, obviously, to the government of India, but also an opportunity for the government to continue in its policy efforts on a variety of fronts," IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said yesterday.

"I wouldn't want to speculate on any support or program needs," he said when asked on the speculation about India coming to the IMF, possibly selling its gold reserves to the IMF to prop up its currency.

"But maybe just stepping back on the situation in India, the combination of large fiscal and current account deficits, high and persistent inflation, sizable unhedged corporate foreign borrowing and reliance on portfolio inflows are longstanding vulnerabilities that have now been elevated as global liquidity conditions tighten, and this clearly has affected market confidence," Rice said in response to a question.

The US India Business Council (USIBC) president Ron Somers emphasised on taking steps to restore investors' confidence.

"Bold leadership that continues to open India's economy and which advances reforms will help staunch the rupees' slide," Somers said.

Lifting FDI caps in Insurance should be the highest priority, while resisting protectionist measures - such as forced manufacturing and backsliding on Intellectual Property protection - is crucial.

Demonstrating such leadership will go a long way towards restoring investor sentiment," Somers said.

Refraining to comment on the Food Security Bill, Somers said rather than discussing the merits or timing, it is now essential to welcome organised retail into the country such that MNCs may help achieve the Bill's efficient implementation and very purpose - to facilitate inclusive growth.

On the Land Acquisition Bill, he said, certainly, the existing law dating back to 1894 requires modernisation.

"However, my hope is that the outcome does not discourage investment in the essential sector of infrastructure. Both investment and infrastructure are the need of the hour," Somers said.

Meanwhile writing for The New York Times, Simon Johnson, former IMF chief economist, said the rupee is able to depreciate without too much drama, and this by itself should, over time, help to reduce imports and increase exports.

Weakening confidence in the Indian economy has been compounded by some policy confusion in recent months, which has further encouraged domestic residents to move funds out of the country, Johnson said.

The former IMF economist said there is political pressure to keep the

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