From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Private Final Consumption Expenditure
Mains level : Paper 3- Measures to sustain the growth momentum
India’s GDP data for Q1 of 2021-22 was released on August 31, 2021. The data revealed the real GDP growth at 20.1% in Q1.
Making sense of the growth
- Base effect: Real GDP growth at 20.1% in Q1 of 2021-22 is largely because of the contraction of 24.4% in the corresponding quarter of the first COVID-19 year, that is, 2020-21.
- The Q1 2021-22 output and GDP growth data reflect a strong base effect since the corresponding levels of Q1 of 2020-21 were significantly adversely impacted by the first wave of COVID-19.
- Fall in magnitude: The magnitude of real GDP fell short of the corresponding level in 2019-20 by a margin of ₹3.3 lakh crore.
- Required rate: A growth rate of 32.3% was required in Q1 of 2021-22 for achieving the same level of real GDP as in Q1 of 2019-20.
- To achieve the annual growth of 9.5% as forecast by both the Reserve Bank of India and the International Monetary Fund for 2021-21, an average growth of 6.8% in the remaining part of the year would be required.
- The task would become relatively more demanding in Q3 and Q4 considering that the real GDP growth was positive at 0.5% and 1.6%, respectively, in the corresponding quarters of 2020-21.
Analysing the demand side
1) Private consumption growth lagging overall GDP growth
- Largest segment: The largest segment of GDP viewed from the demand side is private final consumption expenditure (PFCE).
- Its average share over the last three years (2018-19 to 2020-21) was 56.5%.
- If PFCE were to reach back the 2019-20 level, it should have grown by 35.5% in this quarter.
- The recovery in private consumption demand is lagging behind the overall GDP growth.
- Way forward: Private consumption depends largely on income growth and its distribution.
- Therefore, it would be useful to focus on further supporting income and employment levels for the MSMEs and informal sectors of the economy which have a higher propensity to consume.
2) Export and investment: positive outcome in Q1
- Noticeable positive outcomes in Q1 of 2021-22 came from exports and to some extent, from investment as reflected by gross fixed capital formation (GFCF).
- Exports grew by 39.1% over a contraction of 21.8% in Q1 of 2020-21.
- This differential is reflected in a positive growth of 8.7%.
- Investment: In the case of GFCF, the base effect was quite large.
- Despite a growth of 55.3% in Q1 of 2021-22, its magnitude was still 17.1% lower than the corresponding level in Q1 of 2019-20.
3) Contraction in government final consumption
- The only demand segment which contracted even with reference to Q1 of 2020-21 was government final consumption expenditure (GFCE).
- This contraction was by a margin of (-) 4.8%.
Analysing the output side
1) Key service sectors
- The key service sector — namely trade, transport, storage grew by 34.3% in Q1 of 2021-22 as compared to a contraction of 48.1% in Q1 of 2020-21.
- However, relative to its level in Q1 of 2019-20, the output of this large service sector was significantly lower by 30.2% in Q1 of 2021-22.
- Though public administration, defence and other services showed a growth of 5.8% in Q1 of 2021-22 over Q1 of 2020-21, they actually reflected a contraction of 5.0% as compared to Q1 of 2019-20.
- The key positive news came from the agricultural sector which showed a growth of 4.5% in Q1 of 2021-22, in continuation of annual growth of 3.6% in 2020-21.
- Given agriculture’s positive growth in all the quarters of 2020-21, further contribution from this sector to the overall growth may not be expected.
- Its average weight to the overall output is also low at about 15%.
- It is the high weight manufacturing sector and the two substantive service sectors — trade, transport et. al and financial, real estate et al. — which will have to support growth in the remaining part of the year.
- Government should raise the demand: The Centre’s fiscal deficit in the first four months of 2021-22 amounted to only 21.3% of the budgeted target as compared to the corresponding average level of 90% over the last four years.
- Clearly, significant policy space is opening up for the government to raise its demand and its contribution to output in the remaining part of the current fiscal year.
- Dealing with likely third wave: Attempts should be made either to bypass or at least curb the adverse impact of COVID-19’s likely third wave.
- Vaccination and investment in health infra: Both the coverage of vaccination and the pace of investment in health infrastructure should be accelerated.
- As revenues improve, expenditures can be increased.
- There is no need to reduce the fiscal deficit below the budgeted level of 6.8% of GDP.
Consider the question “To make up for the loss of output in the last two years India needs to embark on the path of high growth trajectory. Suggest the measure to achieve this objective.”
We need a faster rate of growth to make up for the loss of output in the previous two years from the trend rate. We must lay the foundation for faster growth in this year itself.