(G.N.S) Dt. 29
The Economic Survey 2018 has estimated that the Indian economy will grow by 7-7.5 per cent in 2018-19, thereby re-instating India as the world’s fastest growing major economy.
Tabled in Parliament on Monday by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the Survey says the second half of FY 2018 can clock 6.75 percent growth.
There has been a 50% increase in the number of indirect taxpayers. There has also been a large increase in voluntary registrations, especially by small enterprises that buy from large enterprises wanting to avail themselves of input tax credits.
The Survey states that fears of major producing States that the shift to the new system would undermine their tax collections had been allayed as the distribution of the GST base among them got closely linked to the size of their economies.
It became evident that when “formality” was defined in terms of social security provisions like EPFO/ESIC, the formal sector payroll was found to be about 31 per cent of the non-agricultural work force. When “formality” was defined in terms of being part of the GST net, such formal sector payroll share was found to be 53 per cent.
States that export internationally and trade with other States were found to be richer. Such correlation is stronger between prosperity and international trade.
It is pointed out that the Rebate of State Levies (ROSL) has increased exports of readymade garments (man-made fibers) by about 16 per cent but not of others.
The data highlights another seemingly known fact that Indian society exhibits a strong desire for a male child. It points out that most parents continued to have children until they get number of sons. The survey gives details of various scenarios leading to skewed sex ratios and also gave a comparison on sex ratio by birth between India and Indonesia.
The survey points out that tax departments in India have contested in several tax disputes but with a low success rate of below 30 per cent. About 66 per cent of pending cases account for only 1.8 per cent of value at stake. It further states that 0.2 per cent of cases account for 56 per cent of the value at stake.
Extrapolating the data the survey indicates that growth in savings does not bring economic growth but the growth in investment does.
The survey mentions that collections of direct taxes by the States and other local governments, where they have powers to collect them is significantly lower than their counterparts in other federal countries. A comparison has been given between ratios of direct tax to total revenues of local governments in India, Brazil and Germany.
The survey captures the footprints of climate change on the Indian territory and consequent adverse impact on agricultural yields. Extreme temperature increases and deficiency in rainfall have been captured on the Indian map and the graphical changes in agricultural yields are brought out from such data. The impact was found to be twice as large in un-irrigated areas as in irrigated ones.
“A preliminary analysis of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) data reveals that there has been a 50% increase in the number of indirect taxpayers, besides a large increase in voluntary registrations, especially by small enterprises that buy from large enterprises and want to avail themselves of Input Tax Credits (ITC),” the Survey stated.
According to the Economic Survey, there were 9.8 million unique GST registrants, an increase by 3.4 million compared to the previous tax regime. While Maharashtra, UP, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat have the number of GST registrants, West Bengal has seen the largest increase in the number of tax registrants.
The Survey noted that five States — Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Telangana —account for 70% of India’s exports.
The Survey has observed that the growing rural to urban migration by men has led to ‘feminisation’ of agriculture sector. There has been a substantial rise in the number of women in multiple roles as cultivators, entrepreneurs, and labourers. The Survey has suggested this change should be taken to advantage by providing enhanced access to women farmers in key resources such as land, water, credit, technology and training.
An ‘inclusive transformative agricultural policy’ should aim at gender-specific intervention to raise productivity of small farm holdings, integrate women as active agents in rural transformation, and engage men and women in extension services with gender expertise, the Survey has stated.
The Survey also noted that the mechanisation is picking up in farm sector. The Survey also suggested land holdings can be consolidated to reap the benefits of agricultural mechanisation.
A separate chapter in the Economic Survey is dedicated to climate change and environment. The Chapter on Sustainable Development, Energy and Climate Change noted that India has strengthened its response to the threat of climate change in accordance with the “Paris Pledge.”
While the share of renewables has trebled in the last 10 years, it stands only at 18 percent in the total installed capacity of electricity in the country.
The Survey blames four factors for rising pollution in the National Capital Region — crop residue and biomass burning, vehicular emissions, redestributed road dust from industries and power plants, and winter temperature inversion due to lack of humidity and absence of wind.
It has also suggested short, medium and long term solutions to combat air pollution. The suggestions ranges from fines to improving public transport to use of technologies such as Happy Seeder machines and satellite mapping.
The Survey noted that both courts and government should come together to find a solution to address the issue of large pendency of cases. It has made a few suggestions.
Expanding judicial capacity in lower courts to reduce the burden in higher judiciary.
Tax department can exercise greater self restraint by limiting appeals.
Increasing state expenditure on the judiciary, especially on modernisation and digitisation.
Creation of subject or stage-specific Benches in High Court just like Supreme Court
Prioritising stayed cases and imposing stricter timelines.
Improving Courts Case Management and Court Automation Systems.
While India has made notable progress in women development, the preference for son is resulting to a skewed sex ratio, the Survey has pointed out. The north-eastern states are showing the way for the rest of the country when it comes to gender equality.
The Survey has recommended that the nation must confront the societal preference for boys. Noting that schemes such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao, Sukanya Samridhi Yojana and mandatory maternity leave are steps in the right direction, the Survey has called a stronger commitment on the gender front just like how the government is committed towards Ease of Doing Business.
The Economic Survey has observed that the quality of hygiene and sanitation had a significant impact on improving the health outcomes. The Swachh Bharat Mission has increased the sanitation coverage in rural India from 39 per cent in 2014 to 76 percent in January 2018.
Eight states and two Union Territories have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF). Today, more than 90 per cent of individuals have access to toilets.
Quoting a UNICEF report, the Survey has said a household in an ODF village saves up to Rs. 50,000 every year.
As India emerges as one of the world’s largest economics, it needs to gradually move from being a net consumer of knowledge to becoming a net producer, the Survey has noted.
The Survey has suggested that the country has to “to rekindle the excitement and purpose that would attract more young people to scientific enterprise.” It has also stressed the need to invest in science to address the multiple uncertainties arising due to climate change and new emerging threats such as cyber warfare to autonomous military systems.
(G.N.S) Dt. 29