"Growth is forecast to accelerate to 8.1 percent in 2015 and 8.2 percent in 2016, benefiting from the acceleration of infrastructure projects, strong consumer spending due to lower inflation and monetary easing and gradual improvements in market sentiments," said the UN ESCAP report titled, 'Economic and Social Survey of Asia and the Pacific 2015.
    
It said however that volatile capital flows that may follow monetary policy normalisation in the US remain the downside risk. The growth projection is in line with the estimates of the Finance Ministry. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank have projected India's growth at 7.5 percent for the current fiscal. However, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has forecast a growth rate of 7.8 percent.
    
The report said, decline in inflation benefits from lower global energy prices, but structural factors that keep food prices remain high. These include post-harvest food waste that is up to 40 percent, lack of market competition, higher agricultural input prices and wages and an increase in minimum support prices. More than half of India's farming is rain-fed, so food prices are subject to weather conditions, it added.
    
Talking about structural reforms, the report said these are gaining momentum since the new administration took office in May 2014. These include opening up of 120 million new bank accounts to promote access to finance and easing FDI restrictions in such sectors as defence equipment, railways and construction.
    
That apart, it said "The 'Make in India' initiative was launched in September 2014 to promote India as a global manufacturing hub. The success of this scheme would require broad-based policy actions in enhancing human capital, access to inputs and finance, and better connectivity."
    
In this regard, the report said, the government introduced online services for environmental and forest-related clearances and launched an online system to replace cumbersome labour-related forms. On impediments to growth, it said, one of the key remaining challenges is to address labour market rigidities and generate enough jobs for 8 million new job-market entrants per year.

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