Govt could target 4.5% fiscal deficit in Budget this year: Samiran Chakraborty, Citi – ET BFSI


2021 could be a year when both the RBI and the government will have to plan for at least some amount of normalisation, says Samiran Chakraborty, Chief Economist (India), Citi in conversation with ET NOW.

Digitisation and work from home has changed fortunes of Indian IT sector in terms of availability and optimisation. When the real economy shapes up in the post Covid world, are these factors which could surprise us and create a lot of upside?
It is quite possible. It could work both ways. On the positive side, we have seen a significant improvement in profitability in the September quarter numbers for companies. Even if you adjust for factors like travel cost or advertisement and promotion costs or to some extent even wage cost, there still seems to be a residual element which could be attributed to productivity improvement. On the other hand, because of all these physical distancing protocols to be maintained in different kinds of services and in some cases even may be in manufacturing, there is a decline in productivity which has led to somewhat higher prices — part of the reason why inflation has picked up during the Covid period. It is not just simply because of the lack of mobility issue but it could also be due to the fact that companies are being forced to abide by these physical distancing protocols leading to some productivity decline.

Both the things are working simultaneously but my sense is that over the next couple of quarters, looking at the productivity data and for wage cost, travel cost etc. we will have a much better sense of how much permanent improvement in productivity is contributing to this profitability.

We have got three important data points which are different. Bond yield is at a multi-year low, forex is at a multi-year high and rising fiscal deficit. We do not know how things will move in the Budget. How important are these three variables to judge the economy?
At least for the first two, there is a strong element of RBI intervention which is keeping those two variables where they are. Fiscal deficit is more in the control of the government to decide where they want to put it. Now while we are all discussing the nascent economic recovery, we have to keep in mind that this recovery is to some extent on the crutches of the fiscal and monetary stimulus and 2021 could be a year when both the RBI and the government will have to plan for at least some amount of normalisation.It may not be done immediately but in the latter part of the year, normalisation will probably become a necessity and that is where these variables will start playing an important role in the economy. We are not thinking of any policy rate hikes in 2021 but to some extent surplus liquidity in the banking system might get normalised which means that rates in the system go up a little bit. So, the 10-year government bond yields can move up to about quarter over the course of the year. On the exchange rate side, the big dilemma is that because we are having a current account surplus or at least a much lower current account deficit and huge amount of capital inflows, there is a constant pressure on the currency to appreciate which the RBI does not want to do because we are simultaneously following a self-reliant India campaign and putting some sort of import curbs to promote domestic manufacturing.

If the RBI is intervening so much that it is creating surplus liquidity that will militate against the RBI bid to tighten liquidity at the latter part of the year, how RBI manages between the two is going to be very critical for 2021.

On fiscal deficit we think it is possible for the government to target about a 4.5% fiscal deficit in the Budget this year on the back of slightly lower than 7% fiscal deficit and GDP last year and that is possible by so much of expenditure compression. But if the economic growth is normalising, then the revenue side will improve on the tax revenue side while on the non-tax revenue side, a lot of divestment proposals which could not fructify in FY21 might be carried over to FY22 and help the FY22 revenue collection. 4.5% fiscal deficit and GDP in our view is quite possible for next year.

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here