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Stimulus packages lead to fiscal deficit & inflation: FM

Washington: Finance Minister P Chidambaram on Friday said the three stimulus packages India had provided to the economy in the wake of the global financial crisis post 2008-09 lead to a higher fiscal deficit, inflation and slowdown in growth.

He said the government is going to take more steps on the supply side to bring down the inflation and ensure 7 per cent growth rate next year.

The three stimulus packages, which were undertaken by his predecessor, resulted in increase in fiscal deficit, inflation and slowdown in growth, Chidambaram said in his address to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington-based think-tank.

He said five per cent growth rate "is unacceptable for us. Our potential growth rate is much higher. We are performing below potential, it is because we are doing wrong thing, we are not doing right thing."

"Whatever it takes, we will cut the fiscal deficit by 60 basis point every year," he said.

Describing the high inflation – raging at over 10 per cent – as "over outrageous", he said fiscal deficit is the main reason for this.

The inflation, he said, is now trending downward, as a result of the steps being taken by his ministry.

"We will continue to take more steps, on the supply side to ensure that inflation rate tends downwards," he said.

Chidambaram said he would like to emulate the Chinese and Japanese in executing the projects.

As many as 215 large projects are stalled today, he said, adding that each one of them is over USD 250 million.

The recently constituted, the Cabinet Committee on Investment has cleared projects over USD 14 million.

There will be another meeting, on his return, wherein he hopes to bring in 31 projects in the oil and gas sector for approval and would be cleared, he noted.

Chidambaram said India would soon have regulator for the road sector, a new authority for the rail pricing.

This and other measures he intends to take in the next few weeks.

"A number of initiatives are under way. The idea is to go from five per cent growth rate to six per cent plus growth rate," he said.

"In 2014, we hope to go to seven per cent growth rate and the year after achieve our potential of eight per cent growth rate," the minister said.

Unless Europe gets its act together, and unless the green shoot seen in the US flower and become plant and unless Japan improves – major economic show lives and growth – how is that the developing economies can grow, Chidambaram asked, adding that India's growth depends on the health of the global economy.

"There are difficulties ahead of us," he said, adding that India needs to get its act together.

India, he said, needs a trillion dollar in the infrastructure sector. The domestic Indian consumption and domestic investment, must drive India's growth and get the country back to the eight percent growth, he said.

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