Ratings to face stress if reforms stray; GST crucial: S&P

Reforms like land acquisition bill and GST have been stuck due to political logjam in Parliament.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Updated: November 22, 2015 11:29 am
column, express column, ITI, vocational course, evaluation, UNFPA, NPSD, NPSD 2009, NSDC, National Employability Through Apprenticeship Programme, Indian Express Over the next few decades, India has an opportunity to reap a potential demographic dividend.

Expressing concern over slowdown in the pace of reforms, Standard & Poor’s has said India’s rating could come under stress if government fails to pursue reforms agenda and overshoots fiscal deficit target.

It ruled out a rating upgrade for the country in the next 12-18 months but said that in case the government is able to get the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill passed in the forthcoming Winter Session of Parliament, it would be a credit positive.

“GST will bring in a simple tax regime and a business friendly environment. Passage of GST bill will be credit positive for India. It would indicate that government’s reform initiative is picking pace with a strong momentum,” S&P’s Rating Services India Sovereign Analyst Kyran Curry told PTI.

Reforms like land acquisition bill and GST have been stuck due to political logjam in Parliament.

“In our analysis, in past six months, the progress of reform has slowed down,” Curry said while ruling out a rating upgrade over the next 12-18 months.

US-based S&P has assigned ‘BBB-‘ rating on India with a stable outlook. ‘BBB’ is the lowest investment grade rating.

The global credit rating agency would formally review India’s ratings in November 2016, but would keep a close watch on the upcoming Budget to see how the government plans to maintain the deficit target and go ahead with the reforms, Curry said.

“The ratings could come under stress if we see that government is backing away from reform commitment and fiscal deficit is not in control,” Curry said.

Although government plans to roll out GST, billed as the most comprehensive indirect tax reform since Independence, from April 1, 2016, the date looks difficult as the Constitution Amendment Bill is stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA does not have a majority.

With the Winter Session beginning on November 26, the NDA has to work out a strategy to seek Congress’ support for the passage of the legislation.

According to estimates, implementation of GST could boost India’s GDP by about 2 per cent.

Curry said S&P could consider a rating upgrade if fiscal deficit is brought down, debt to GDP ratio is below 60 per cent and savings are properly channelised.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has however already postponed the fiscal consolidation roadmap by a year in the Budget for 2015-16.

As per the revised roadmap, fiscal deficit is to be brought down to 3.9 per cent of GDP in 2015-16, 3.5 per cent in 2016-17 and 3 per cent by 2017-18. The deficit in 2014-15 was 4 per cent of GDP.

Several rating agencies and brokerages have said that implementation of the recent Pay Commission recommendations could hurt India’s fiscal deficit even as the government is confident of meeting the target.

The 7th Pay Commission has last week recommended increase in remuneration of about one crore government employees and pensioners, which is estimated to impose an additional burden of Rs 1.02 lakh crore in 2016-17.

The new pay scales, subject to government’s acceptance, are to take effect from January 1, 2016.

 

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  1. A
    Abhinav Gour
    Nov 25, 2015 at 10:15 am
    Rating agencies are trying to control the policies.
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    1. A
      Ashutosh
      Nov 22, 2015 at 9:16 am
      In the year 2015, returns, not of the prodigals but by the faithfools, have been in the limelight. The awards, honours, medals etc were 'returned' by a few recipients as protest! Those one-time returns had had a field day. But nobody has a word about the returns submitted, along with money, by millions of citizens every month, quarter and year almost all their lives. These returns have no mention even at the event in which the Returning Officer declares the candidate with highest number of votes as 'returned'. That is the lot of real returnees in the Republic of INDIA.
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      1. R
        Ramesh Nittoor
        Nov 22, 2015 at 2:31 pm
        A constructive, rational debate on GST and wider economic policies can be conducted only if Congress emerges out of the obsolete decision making mode of dyanstic grip. The British citizenship issue could have led to dynasty down fall. But it seems the handlers moved in swiftly to firm up dynastic grip by arranging meeting with international business leaders. The business leaders got to realize that long term interest lies in healthy democracy, not receptivity to interest groups. The dyanstic decision making mode as an engine of growth is like steam engine, its efficiency is only a single digit.
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        1. P
          PC
          Nov 23, 2015 at 11:49 am
          I think these so called Rating agencies are indirectly trying to govern economic policy of India.We should not give so much concernment to them.
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