Growth in Asia’s third-largest economy has been hit by weak consumer demand and slower government spending amid pressures from the Sino-US trade war, and more recent economic data suggests growth could fall further.
The central bank has already chopped 135 basis points off its key lending rate, but this has failed to spur demand.
In an opinion piece in The Hindu newspaper on Monday, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – the architect of the liberalisation of India’s economy – wrote the government needs to “act quickly to restore consumption demand through fiscal policy measures since the impact of monetary policy seems muted.”
He warned the economy risks stagflation – high inflation combined with stagnant demand and high unemployment – if it fails to act.
Other economists agree. “It’s not a question of debate, it has now become imperative,” said Rupa Rege Nitsure, chief economist at L&T Financial. “We need to keep aside all other considerations and work in the interest of growth.”
While the government has announced various sector-specific measures and a cut in corporate taxes, economists note it has not directly addressed the widespread weakness in consumption demand – the main economic driver in recent years.