If Modi is right on GDP growth, then is the Reserve Bank wrong?
The prime minister lashed out at his critics, but his claims might not be all that reliable.
- Total Shares
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked for 50 days to fix the demonetisation-induced woes when he had announced it on November 8, 2016. However 11 months on, as the GDP has nosedived, PM Modi seems petulant, at best, in dismissing his critics on economy, which include two former NDA ministers, Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie.
In a speech at the golden jubilee celebrations of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, PM brushed off his detractors saying that it's not the first time that the GDP has dipped to 5.7 per cent growth rate, and that we shouldn't be so critical of BJP's handling of matters economic. He added that the economy was on a firm footing and the "government was committed to reverse this trend" (of slowdown).
GDP growth rate over the years. pic.twitter.com/YjkW9LUeJr— PMO India (@PMOIndia) October 4, 2017
PM Modi gave out a series of numbers and assured that the Reserve Bank of India has "predicted 7.7 per cent growth in the coming quarters", adding that there have been increase in sectors such as auto sales, air traffic, air freight, mobile phone subscription, etc. However, how accurate were the Prime Minister's claims?
Let's do a fact-check.
GDP growth rate
PM Modi said that there were eight occasions during which GDP growth rate fell below 5.7 per cent in the previous UPA-2 government. However, as Yashwant Sinha and other economists have alerted us, the Modi government changed the methodology to determine GDP growth rate in 2015, in effect inflating it by two percentage points. If the same methodology is applied to UPA2, their GDP growth rate would be much higher on an average.
पिछली सरकार के 6 साल में 8 बार ऐसे मौके आए जब विकास दर 5.7 प्रतिशत या उससे नीचे गिरी। देश की अर्थव्यवस्था ने ऐसे क्वार्टर्स भी देखे हैं, जब विकास दर 0.2 प्रतिशत, 1.5 प्रतिशत तक गिरी: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) October 4, 2017
On RBI predictions
PM Modi said RBI has predicted a growth rate of 7.7 per cent in the coming quarters. But RBI's own Monetary Policy Committee has made a dire prognosis, revising the valued added growth (GVA) to 6.7 per cent. So if Modi is right, is the RBI wrong?
The official who briefed the PM on this should be fired. The RBI Governor said today that the growth projection stands revised DOWN to 6.7%. https://t.co/w0ZfvZ5Rs8— Puja Mehra (@pujamehra) October 4, 2017
As investor, whom should one follow? PM throwing rosy assurances or a central banker cutting growth forecast & signaling investment drought?— anshuman tiwari (@anshuman1tiwari) October 4, 2017
In PM's Jumlanomics speech, RBI's GVA projection of 6.7% was changed by him to 7.7%. How do you trust the data he throws around?— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) October 4, 2017
On demonetisation and cash-GDP ratio
PM said: "After demonetisation cash to GDP ratio has become 9 per cent, down from 12 per cent before November 8, 2016." He added that November 8 would be known in history as the first day of the war against corruption. "It was this government that had the courage to take the demonetisation decision," he said.
ये सरकार के अथक परिश्रम का ही परिणाम है कि आज देश की अर्थव्यवस्था कम Cash के साथ चल रही है। Demonetisation के बाद Cash to GDP Ratio अब 9 प्रतिशत पर आ गया है। 8 नवंबर 2016 से पहले ये 12 प्रतिशत से ज्यादा हुआ करता था: PM @narendramodi— PMO India (@PMOIndia) October 4, 2017
However, as many observers and economists have noted, cash usage and cash component in the economy are almost back to the pre-demonetisation level. And even though the cash-to-GDP ratio has come down, the millions of lost jobs, and the shrinking of economy by two percentage points, from 7.9 per cent to 5.7 per cent, were no way to reduce what's essentially typical of all emerging market economies.
Who is responsible for the Demonetisation disaster? And the gross mismanagement of GST or higher indirect taxes? #InformalSectorCrushed— Sitaram Yechury (@SitaramYechury) October 4, 2017
On FDI and investment climate
PM Modi said foreign direct investment is rising and FDI inflows in renewable energy, computer and information technology, mining and construction have been steady. However, the PM only mentions certain sectors, and not the overall investment climate, which saw a dip. A report in March 2017 noted how net FDI dropped, and impact of demonetisation was felt. "Net FDI inflow also dropped as higher FDI investment went abroad. The impact of demonetisation was felt largely in outflow of portfolio investment, which has not been so bad in more than a decade. This coupled with large FCNR redemptions squeezed the overall capital account surplus," said Anand Rathi Shares and Stock Brokers to The Economic Times.
Moreover, day after demonetisation diktat, Mint published a report that rued how the FDI inflows were falling in the first half of 2016, in line with other emerging market economies.
PM admitted that he's still getting the feedback. He said: "Three months after GST, we have got feedback on all nitty-gritties. And I have told the GST Council must review all problems now."
As expected, #ModiTransformsIndia trended on Twitter, as if on cue, and pro-regime, pro-BJP handles were found to be repeating the same chunks of texts, with the hashtag. They were called out in no time.
But it seems not just his regime, but the PM himself has got carried away by his own "make-believe growth data".