|India's overall outlook remains positive, although growth will slow temporarily as a result of disruptions to consumption and business activity from the recent withdrawal of high-denomination banknotes from circulation.
But the nation's expansion will pick up again as economic reforms kick in, said the IMF in its latest assessment. Growth is expected at 6.6 percent in this fiscal year and at 7.2 percent in the following year.
IMF mission chief for India Paul Cashin said, The Indian economy is growing strongly and remains a bright spot in the global landscape. The halving of global oil prices that began in late 2014 boosted economic activity in India, further improved the external current account and fiscal positions, and helped lower inflation. In addition, continued fiscal consolidation, by reducing government deficits and debt accumulation, and an anti-inflationary monetary policy stance have helped cement macroeconomic stability.
The government has made significant progress on important economic reforms, which will support strong and sustainable growth going forward. In particular, the upcoming implementation of the goods and services tax, which has been in the making for over a decade, will help raise India's medium-term growth to above 8 percent, as it will enhance the efficiency of production and movement of goods and services across Indian states.
Challenges remain, however, and there is little scope for complacency. A key concern for us is the health of the banking system, which is still dealing with a large amount of bad loans, and also heightened corporate vulnerabilities in several key sectors of the economy.
And, over the past few months, the economy has been hit by cash shortages, and accordingly we reduced our growth forecasts to 6.6 percent for fiscal year 2016/17 and to 7.2 percent in 2017/18.
Paul further said,The initiative affected notes with a total value of about 15 trillion rupees, which amounted to 86 percent of all cash in circulation. Because payment transactions in India are primarily cash-based and electronic payments infrastructure is limited, the shortage of cash has disrupted economic activity, with smaller businesses and rural regions being particularly badly affected.
Fortunately, these effects are expected to gradually dissipate by March 2017 as cash shortages ease. It also appears that measures taken to alleviate payment disruptions, such as temporarily allowing use of old banknotes for purchases of fuel and agricultural inputs, have helped mitigate the negative impact. So we expect the slowdown to be limited and relatively short-lived and the financial system to come through unscathed. Of course, potential loan repayment risks should be monitored carefully, particularly given an already elevated level of non-performing loans.
The demonetization initiative presents an opportunity to increase the size of the formal economy and broaden financial intermediation in the longer term. It can also support a widening of the tax base, help reduce the fiscal deficit, enhance bank liquidity, and give a fillip to the government's efforts to promote greater financial inclusion.
Sound economic policymaking underpinned by strong institutions is critical for sustainable growth. A recent example of a positive change in India is the implementation of flexible inflation targeting and creation of the Monetary Policy Committee, which have strengthened the credibility of monetary policy and helped maintain price stability in an increasingly complex economy.