After the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic had hit the country hard, which led the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) reduce its gross domestic product (GDP) growth projection by one per cent in the current financial year, Rajiv Kumar, Vice-Chairman, NITI Aayog on Saturday said he is confident that every organisation will revise their growth projections to 10-10.5 per cent once they witness the growth rate by October.
“Everyone will revise their growth projections once our economy will start recovering. The recovery will start from June itself and will get pace from July. I am confident that everyone will revise their growth projections to 10 per cent-10.5 per cent once they see the growth of economy after October month,” said Rajiv Kumar in an exclusive interview to ANI.”
The RBI has cut the GDP growth forecast from 10.5 per cent to 9.5 per cent for the financial year 2021-22. Speaking to ANI, Rajiv Kumar said, “RBI has cuts GDP growth forecast for the financial year 2021-22 to 9.5 per cent from 10.5 per cent due to impact of the second wave, which is going to impact our economy in the first quarter. The economy will recover below than expected in the first quarter. Our economy will grow at a pace of 10 per cent-10.5 per cent in the financial year 2021-22.”
Rajiv Kumar is hopeful that pandemic will not have much impact on fiscal deficit and disinvestment targets. “Covid-19 has forced the government to invest more, spend more on public infrastructure, but it will not have much impact as we have seen our GST collection has increased. In the budget also our revenue target were kept very conservative.
So I think we will not have to worry much about our fiscal deficit target. If we see the data of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) which stated that fiscal deficit target globally is on an average of around 9.8 per cent. Our fiscal deficit is not more than others. I am confident that we will achieve our disinvestment target,” Kumar further said.
Speaking about the possibility of a third wave after a disastrous second wave created havoc in the country, Kumar said, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”
“We are fully prepared for the third wave. Our health infrastructure is much better than earlier. If by any chance a third wave strikes, it will not impact as much as I have seen. People are not careless now. They are taking full precautions and are getting vaccinated also. Thus, I believe that a third wave will not make much impact.”
Kumar said he is quite hopeful that the government will vaccinate everyone above the age of 18 years. “We have already vaccinated more than 22 crore population. Our member Dr VK Paul has assured that by July up till December, our country will get 210 crore doses of vaccine,” he said.
The NITI Aayog member further said the second wave has frightened people. “They are still in fear. As soon as people are vaccinated this fear will go away and people will start coming out for spending. I believe that we will see that agriculture, manufacturing and exports will do better once things are returned to normal,” Kumar said.
Asked if the government is working on any stimulus package like last year, Kumar responded, “Our Finance Minister has said that if required, government is ready to do whatever is required. Government is already doing whatever is required. Recently the government has extended Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS) and included more sectors to provide them support. So the government is already working and is ready to do more if required.”
On the issue of the constantly rising prices of fuel and states appealing to the government to do something to provide relief to the common man, Kumar said, “Such things are always said that the central government should do something about petrol-diesel price rise, but we need to balance also. The government has the responsibility to control inflation, I hope that those who have this responsibility will balance.”