Debt discussion: Finance Ministry's reaction to the IMF's most recent India consultation details

  • Dec. 27, 2023, 5:04 p.m.

A statement titled "Factual position vis-à-vis IMF's Article IV consultations with India" was released by the Finance Ministry last Friday. To put things in perspective, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) conducts bilateral talks with its members, often once a year, following its Articles of Agreement. After gathering data on the economy and finances and conferring with high-ranking authorities about policy, IMF staff members draft a report that is reviewed by the Fund's executive board. Four days after the IMF disclosed the most recent details of their consultation with India, the Ministry released a statement stating that “certain presumptions have been made taking into account possible scenarios that do not reflect factual position”. The Ministry also cited an IMF estimate that stated severe shocks might raise India's general government debt to 100% of GDP or more in the medium run (by 2027–2028).

The Ministry underlined that other IMF nation assessments show significantly greater extreme "worst-case" scenarios, for example, at 160%, 140%, and 200% of GDP for the U.S., the U.K., and China, respectively, and that this was simply a worst-case scenario and not already a fact.

In 2022–2023 the total debt of the federal and state governments was 81% of GDP, up from 88% in 2020–21. The IMF estimates that, in the right conditions, this might potentially drop to 70% by 2027–2028. The Ministry noted that the shocks that India has experienced this century—such as the epidemic and the financial crisis of 2008—have had an impact on the global economy. In response to early news flashes, it further explained that its statement was “an attempt to arrest misinterpretation or misuse” of its words, which implied that the general government debt would surpass 100% of GDP in the medium term, rather than an IMF rebuttal. Experts in semantics can dispute over whether the communiqué was clarifying or hostile.

The director of India's delegation to the IMF Board has already expressed misgivings on record over the assessments of debt risks [referring to them as "extreme") and several other economic elements made by its staff. IMF staff members' opinions on India's fiscal situation have, on the whole, improved throughout the previous 12 months. They now think that the risks to sovereign stress are modest, notwithstanding their 2022 argument that India's fiscal flexibility is in jeopardy. This is partly because the Centre has been able to meet its fiscal deficit targets recently, despite having debt levels that were approximately 57% of GDP last year. It is imperative that debt be lowered and spending be curtailed in order to maintain the goal of reducing the deficit to 4.5% of GDP by 2025–2026, from an expected 5.9% this year. Though responding negatively to a report's negative detail may sometimes make it more noticeable, words seldom really speak louder than deeds.



Author : Rajdhani Delhi Representative

Rajdhani delhi representative

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