You are here: Home » Budget » News
Business Standard

India's Budget points to a loosening of fiscal policy: Fitch Ratings

The Budget points to a loosening of fiscal policy to support the country's ongoing economic recovery from the pandemic and will consequently lead to a rise in public debt, Fitch said

Topics
Fitch Ratings | Budget 2021 | Economic recovery

IANS  |  Mumbai/Hong Kong 

Nirmala Sitharaman
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman holds a folder case containing a tablet with files of the Union Budget 2021-22 on February 1. Photo: PTI

Indias Budget presented on February 1 by Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman points to a loosening of fiscal policy to support the countrys ongoing from the pandemic and will consequently lead to a rise in public debt.

The debt/GDP trajectory is core to our sovereign rating assessment, meaning higher deficits and a slower consolidation path will make India's medium-term growth outlook take on a more critical role in our analysis, says

India entered the pandemic with little fiscal headroom from a rating perspective. Its general government debt/GDP ratio stood at 72 per cent in 2019, against a median of 42 per cent for 'BBB' rated peers.

"We revised the Outlook on India's 'BBB-' rating to Negative, from Stable, in June 2020, partly owing to our assumptions about the impact of the pandemic on its public finance metrics. The budget's deficit projections for the fiscal years ending March 2022 (FY22) to FY26 are about 1pp a year above our previous estimates between, which could make it more challenging to put debt/GDP on a downward trajectory," said.

"We now expect public debt/GDP to rise above 90 per cent of GDP over the next five years, based on the revised budget targets and with our other previous rating assumptions remaining unchanged. However, recent reforms and policy measures, including those announced in the budget, could also influence our growth expectations and, thus, our debt trajectory forecasts," said.

Fitch's latest economic outlook projected growth at 11 per cent in FY22 then at around 6.5 per cent a year through to FY26. This pace of expansion reflects base effects and the closing of output gaps after the pandemic shock.

In aggregate, the 2021 budget has the potential to lift growth prospects. Higher expenditure will support the near-term recovery and increased infrastructure spending could boost sustainable medium-term growth rates.

Labour market and agricultural reforms that were legislated in September 2020 could also lift medium-term growth. However, recent adverse court rulings have highlighted implementation challenges to these reforms and there is a risk that fiscal spending could also fall short of planned levels. Meanwhile, the budget's proposed increases in import tariffs could dampen trade and economic growth, it added.

"Although there are implementation risks around aspects of the budget, we regard the government's overall fiscal projections as broadly credible. The budget's higher deficit forecasts are partly driven by positive steps toward greater transparency, as previously off-balance-sheet items, such as loans from the Food Corporation of India, have been brought on budget," Fitch Ratings said.

The extent to which policy changes address weaknesses in India's financial sector will also influence the country's medium-term growth potential. We believe the proposed injection of Rs 200 billion ($2.7 billion) of new capital into state banks will be insufficient to alleviate the anticipated incremental stress on capital levels in 2021 and 2022. State banks are likely to continue to experience asset-quality problems, weak profitability and small capital buffers and, as a result, we project credit growth to remain soft in the absence of further government action.

On the other hand, the proposed establishment of an asset reconstruction company and an asset management company to deal with bad banking sector assets should be credit positive, dependent on the details of its structure and implementation. Plans to privatise two state banks could also be significant, but would require changes to the Bank Nationalisation Act, which would add to implementation challenges. Fitch will take a considered view of any changes to the Act and take necessary action should these have broader implications for the sector or our support assumptions.

--IANS

san/in

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

First Published: Thu, February 11 2021. 13:42 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU