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...Before I turn to the issue of how we might restore the health of PSBs, let us get the facts on the slowdown in credit growth right. Today, it is universally believed that the annual growth of credit advanced by the Scheduled Commercial Banks (SCBs) in 2016-17 fell to 5.1%, the lowest in six decades. This is the figure in a widely quoted April 2017 PTI story. The latest data in the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) Handbook on Statistics show, however, that SCB credit has actually grown 9% in 2016-17. This is far from the lowest in the past six decades. For example, at 5.7%, credit growth in 1993-94 was more than 3 percentage points lower. It deserves noting that the 9% figure represents continuity rather than a sharp break from the recent trend. For the corresponding figures for 2014-15 and 2015-16 were 9.3% and 10.9%, respectively. ...TOI on Oct. 23, 2017, 2 a.m.
...And bad things are more memorable.” These words aptly summarise the nature of the recent debate on growth in India. During 2014-15 to 2016-17, the real gross domestic product (GDP) at market prices grew 7.5% on average. This growth came on the heels of below-6% average growth during the last two years under the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government. However, when the Central Statistics Office (CSO) first released its estimate of robust 7.4% growth in 2014-15, most commentators including many of our leading economists rejected it arguing that it did not match their own assessment of reality on the ground. The common refrain was that the economy did not “feel” like it was growing at such a high rate. ...TOI on Sept. 25, 2017, 2 a.m.
...Inflation and the current account deficit were high. There was deep paralysis in decision-making, infrastructure projects were stuck in all areas, corruption scandals had been breaking out all around and investors were terrified of retrospective taxation. Today the decision making process has been unblocked, infrastructure building has gained momentum, corruption has been reined in and fears associated with retrospective taxation have been assuaged. As a consequence, growth has been restored. The economy grew 7.2% during 2014-15, 7.9% during 2015-16 and 7.1% during 2016-17. Alongside, inflation has dropped from 8% during the first four months of 2014 to below 4% currently. Foreign direct investment during the three financial years of the government has summed to $156 billion with the flow during 2016-17 alone being a record $56 billion. ...TOI on May 17, 2017, 2 a.m.
...Two key activities of the Planning Commission had been to prepare and implement the Five Year Plans and to allocate financial resources to states. Neither of these activities forms a part of the mandate of Niti Aayog. The Twelfth Five Year Plan, which will conclude on March 31 this year, will be India’s last Five Year Plan. Likewise, Niti Aayog does not allocate any financial resources to states. The 14th Finance Commission raised the share of states in the divisible pool from 32% to 42%, leaving no additional funds for allocation to states through Niti Aayog. The annual resource allocation exercise that brought state chief ministers to the doorstep of the Planning Commission is now a thing of the past. Among many functions that Niti Aayog performs, three stand out: promotion of cooperative, competitive federalism; assisting the central government in policy making; and serving as the government’s thinktank. ...TOI on Jan. 2, 2017, 2 a.m.