New Delhi: With government policies set to tilt more towards the "stress-ridden rural landscape" next year in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Indian economy may reach a 7 per cent growth in 2018 while recovering from the lingering effects of demonetisation and GST, industry chamber Assocham said on Sunday.
"After 'disruptions' from the lingering effects of demonetisation and GST roll-out, the Indian economy may reach a 7 per cent growth in 2018 with government policies tilting towards the stress-ridden rural landscape in the penultimate year before the Lok Sabha elections," according to the industry body's "Year-Ahead Outlook".
"Against GDP growth of 6.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2017-18, the economic expansion may reach the crucial 7 per cent mark by the end of September 2018 quarter, while inflation may range between 4-5.5 per cent towards the second half of the next calendar year with the monsoon being a key imponderable," it said. Assocham President Sandeep Jajodia said the projections were based on the assumption of stability in government policies, good monsoons, pick-up in industrial activity and credit growth as also stability in the foreign exchange rates. "The worries on account of crude oil shooting up are likely to abate, if there are no fresh geo-political shockers."
According to the Assocham outlook, while the underlying bullish sentiment should continue to prevail in the Indian stock market in 2018, the returns on equity may not be as robust as in 2017. "This is because the 2017 bull run has already factored in the return of growth steadiness in 2018 and the corporate earnings witnessing a pick-up," it said. The industry lobby said in the run-up to state assembly elections in several politically important states, the political economy is set to tilt towards the farm sector "which has been witnessing some stress".
"The stress in the agriculture sector is traceable to lack of reforms in the rural economy. Despite political promises, several of the states have not been able to reform the APMC Act, which restricts farmers to sell their produce to a particular set of cartels." Assocham expects the forthcoming Union Budget to be "heavily tilted" towards the farmers while the industrial focus would be on sectors which create jobs.
"A realisation seems to be dawning that growth per se is not enough, the benefits must be seen in the form of higher employment. The year 2018 would see policies in this direction", the statement added.