The government has announced support measures over the weekend to help the poor as far as their food requirements are concerned, says Kaushik Das, Director & Cgief Economist, Deutsche Bank, in an interview with ET Now. Edited excerpts:
The headline number seems to suggest that we see a good recovery in Q4 but we are certainly not out of the woods. Your thoughts?
GVA growth has come at 3.7%, which is actually a true reflection of the sequential momentum that we have seen in January-March 2021 over October-December when GVA had grown at 1%. We know that the GDP number is supposed to get distorted because the subsidies have been quite large in January-March 2021 and that has led to GDP kind of coming lower than what you would normally expect.
Normally GDP and GVA should be very close to each other, so you got like 1.6% growth in GDP which is anyway better than what people were expecting. But it could have been better if not for this increased amount of subsidies payments that happened in January-March 2021. The real number to focus on for today would be the GVA number which has come at 3.7%, close to 4% and that would have led to improvement in the FY21 GDP, better than the minus 6.5% that CSO had predicted.
If you think about April, May, June on year-on year-terms, I think the number would be substantially better because last year we were at minus 24.4%. Look at the core infrastructure growth number for April. We have got 56% year on year growth and that will be also seen in industrial production growth when it comes out in seven or eight days.
So I guess in April, May, June what you will see is that on a year on year basis, the growth will look very high but on a quarter on quarter basis sequentially April, May, June will be lower than the January-March momentum that we have seen because of the COVID-19 second wave. We think that we can still get to 10.5% growth in FY22 given the very favourable base effect.
Some of the contact intensive sectors have been hit very hard due to COVID. At a time like this, where do you think should the government really focus on?
There are many different ways to look at it. You would never expect the government to announce everything in one go. So what they have done over the weekend is announce something which is of priority and they have been announcing measures which will help the poor as far as food is concerned. There is also an argument which was seen last year that when you are in a lockdown and most people are staying at home, you can debate whether it makes sense to give stimulus at that point of time because people would kind of try to save that money rather than going and consuming and they themselves are not getting out of their place, mostly because of the restrictions.
What we have seen is that the government likes to announce measures once the lockdowns are kind of removed and people are able to come out and then once you give the stimulus as far as consumption is concerned that could be a more effective way of stimulating growth because if you give it before that, people would tend to save. So what you need to give before, that is for the really needy ones who need food so that they can survive and who are not able to get a job but for general people, those who are staying at home and working from home rather than going to the office, for them if there is some kind of consumer-related stimulus that has to be given, probably after the lockdowns have been kind of taken off.
We have also seen that the fiscal deficit has touched 9.3% of GDP for last year, the revised estimate was 9.5%. If you add that with the states about 4-4.5 fiscal deficit, so we are already at 13.5-14% fiscal deficit as of last year. This year the forecast is 10.8% which could go up a bit higher because of the second COVID wave.
I am sure the government is thinking about how to support but for the time being it will be more of RBI supporting the economy. They have already announced a number of measures on 5th May. We have 4th June when the RBI policy is again coming up. I am sure there will be a lot of regulatory measures announced to help the small and medium scale sectors and then in due course of time, you should hear the government coming out and announcing some bit of fiscal measures to support growth.