WASHINGTON: The ambitious Goods and Services Tax to be implemented from July 1 would help raise India's medium-term growth to above eight per cent, the International Monetary Fund has said adding that the reforms being done is expected to pay off in terms of higher growth in the future.
"The government has made significant progress on important economic reforms that will support strong and sustainable growth going forward," Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, told PTI in an exclusive interview.
"We expect that the goods and services tax (GST), which is targeted to be applied starting in July, will help raise India's medium-term growth to above 8 per cent, as it will enhance production and the movement of goods and services across Indian states," the IMF official said.
"We are extremely impressed by the work that is being done and that we expect it will pay off in terms of higher growth in the future," he said in response to a question on the reforms being undertaken by the Indian Government.
Observing that India is the "fastest growing emerging market economy" in a region that remains the strongest-growing in the world, Zhang said the IMF believes that India is going to continue to grow at a fast pace, with a projected 6.8 per cent rate for Financial Year 2016/17 and 7.2 per cent in 2017/18.
Lower global oil prices have boosted economic activity, and helped lower inflation.
In addition, fiscal and monetary policies have helped foster economic stability, he said.
"The currency exchange initiative led to a slowdown in economic activity.
However, there are initial signs of recovery as the currency exchange has been progressing well," said Zhang, who assumed the role of Deputy Managing Director at the IMF on August 22, 2016.
Zhang, who worked at the World Bank from 1995 to 1997 and at the Asian Development Bank from 1997 to 2004, said a key concern for the IMF in India is the health of the banking system, "which is still dealing with a large amount of bad loans", as well as "heightened corporate vulnerabilities" in several key sectors of the economy.
"As India persists with its strong reform efforts, labour market reforms should take priority," he noted.
These would facilitate greater and better quality jobs, raise female labour force participation, and enhance the impact of recent product market reforms, he observed.
"While there has been important progress generally, we see scope to pursue better targeting and greater efficiency of subsidy and social spending programs through greater use of the trio of Aadhaar unique beneficiary identification, direct benefit transfers, and information technology," Zhao said.
"Finally, more could be done to raise agricultural productivity and enhance market efficiency. This would help increase the supply of high-value foods, enhance returns to farmers, and dampen food inflation pressures," said the IMF official responding to a question.