"It is true that there has been a slowdown in 2012-13 and in current year. The slowdown reflects the world wide trend. As global economy recovers and as new measures take effect, I am confident that Indian economy will also get back step by step to the high growth path in three years", he said while delivering the valedictory address at Petrotech 2014. (Agencies)
India's economic growth slipped to decade low of 5 percent in 2012-13 and in the current fiscal it estimated to be around the same level. It grew by over nine per cent before it was hit by the global crisis of 2008.
Chidambaram expressed hope that the revised growth estimates for 2012-13 were likely to be better than the earlier projections. The government is scheduled to come out with revised growth estimates for 2012-13 on January 31 and the advance estimates for the current fiscal on February 7.
Referring to the Current Account Deficit (CAD), the difference between inflow and outflow of foreign exchange, Chidambaram said it would be contained at USD 50 billion in the current fiscal. The CAD soared to the all-time high of USD 88.2 billion or 4.8 percent of the GDP in 2012-13. The government had taken several measures, including curbs on gold imports, to contain the CAD.
As regards the oil import bill, the Finance Minister said of the total imports of USD 491 billion in 2012-13, oil imports accounted for USD 164 billion.
"A developing country like India cannot afford such a huge import bill or such a high level of CAD. Therefore, we were constrained to take some hard measures, including conservation measures and these measures have helped us contain the CAD," he added.
Inviting investments in the energy sector, Chidambaram said, India is a good long term bet for cooperation in this sector. He also expressed the country's keenness to work closely with oil companies and oil producing nations.
Chidambaram also said that all efforts would be made to contain the fiscal deficit at 4.8 percent of the GDP as was envisaged in the Budget for 2013-14 fiscal.
"I have reiterated our unflinching commitment to contain fiscal deficit to 4.8 percent of GDP in current year and I do so again today. We will then reduce it by 0.6 percent every year until we reach the target of 3 percent in 2016-17", he said.
Referring to the economy, Chidambaram said, the rapid pace of growth had hit a speed breaker and following the global financial crisis of September 2008 quickly descended what is now called the great recession.
Recovery, he added, had been slow especially in Europe and the signals from other advanced industrial economies except the United States and Germany were mixed.
"Among the emerging economies there is still uncertainties and sense of crisis. According to the World Economic Outlook, 2014 promises to be slightly better than 2013. Let us hope that going forward there will be a stable recovery", he added.
The Minister also cautioned that with the recovery in global economy, the demand for oil would pick up leading to volatility in prices.
"Whatever supply overhang is there will be quickly absorbed. The old dilemma will raise its head once again. Oil consuming countries will demand lower and stable prices (while) the oil producing countries will demand high prices." "In 2008 when crude oil prices touched USD 147 per barrel, if I may say so (it) virtually robbed every developing country of 1-2 percent of its growth rate", he said.
The Minister further said that as long as there is asymmetry between oil consumers and oil producers, the concerns about the energy security would remain.
Chidambaram said that as economy improves demand for energy will go up and that will lead to a situation where oil consuming countries will demand low stable prices while the oil producing countries will demand a high stable price.
"As long as oil market is based on the demand and supply curve there will be a concern for energy security," he said.
Earlier, A K Dubey, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Coal, spoke about the challenges being faced by coal industry and also shed light on the advancement in coal mining.
In the next 20 years, India has been projected to emerge as the biggest consumer of all forms of energy and to meet the increasing demands of the future, it is imperative that the country has a sound policy framework in place, he said.
Dr Anupama Sen, Senior Fellow, Oxford Institute of Economic Studies, London said, "India will have to tackle energy subsidies in the downstream sector and the second factor will be that of energy fiscal as by then international observers will be looking at reforms in the energy sector."
The 4th day of PETROTECH-2014 Conference witnessed the first round of Three Parallel Track Sessions. The sessions were divided into three venues each with a particular topic and the experts to share their views on it.
"It is true that there has been a slowdown in 2012-13 and in current year. The slowdown reflects the world wide trend. As global economy recovers and as new measures take effect, I am confident that Indian economy will also get back step by step to the high growth path in three years", he said while delivering the valedictory address at Petrotech 2014.