Where Is The Economy Headed?The economy is showing signs of revival and it is reflected in the industrial production figures that grew 4.9 percent in April after reaching a five-month low in March. This means that demand for goods and services is rising and that it out hope for creation of jobs, one thing that the present government has not managed to bring on track. But this good news is also tempered by extremely low or negative growth in sectors like agriculture, fishing and mining. While mining is suffering from the effects of large scale corruption in licensing and the resultant court cases, if agriculture the sector that provides jobs to nearly half of the workforce does not take off and if farm distress continues, jobs created in factories or the service sector will not be enough as a large number of people will be rendered unemployed from agriculture. The only ray of hope is that the Met has predicted a normal-to-good monsoon and it might help in reviving the sector and lessening farm distress.
By Ashwini Agarwal
On the other hand, hardening of oil and commodity prices have meant that the consumer price index (CPI) is rising faster than expected. As producers battle with rising input costs, they are unable to absorb it in the face of thin margins and product prices are increasing across the board. Couple this with rising prices of daily essentials and farm produce such as vegetables and fruits and the problem being faced by households is clear. In fact, most households surveyed by the RBI expect the CPI to rise faster in the coming months and reach its peak during the festival season in September-October.
The government has to work fast in introducing further reforms. It also has to step up investments in the renewable energy sector so that reliance on fossil fuels is decreased. If inflation rises beyond a comfortable level, the RBI will have to follow a tight money policy to suck out excess cash from the economy. Prices are not likely to fall soon because even if the monsoon is good and the farms produce more, the effects will show only during September-October. By that time, the festival season will push up demand to bring us back to square one.