ECONOMIC SCENE

India to get $ 913.8 million WB loans 
The World Bank has announced four new bank loans and international development association credits for India totalling 913.8 million US dollars taking the figures for the current fiscal's lending to India to 2.5 billion dollars. 
 
The funds will help India support programme vital to lasting poverty reduction at the national, state and local levels. 
 
The Government of India's strategy for poverty reduction encompasses a range of initiatives from community level projects to nation wide development of social and infrastructure projects. These projects support the government strategy and balance broad economic growth and equitable access to basic services. Some of the projects which will be provided aid are - The Karnataka Watershed Development project, Karnataka Economic Restructuring project, the Grand Trunk Road Improvement project and the National Highway between New Delhi and Calcutta. 
 
Panel set up to monitor states' finances 
The finance ministry has constituted a framework, parallel to the Planning Commission, under the Expenditure Finance Commission (EFC) to keep a tab on the states' resources and monitor their path to fiscal reforms. The new division will be a single window agency for routing all investment to the states and work out a pragmatic fiscal reforms path. 

Exports up 4.47% in May 
Exports increased by 4.47 percent to $3.73 billion in May as compared to $ 3.57 billion last year. As per the provisional data released on July 02, 2001 imports during May, however, went  up marginally by 2.45 percent to $ 4.46 billion compared to $ 4.35 billion in the same month last year. 
 
Exports during April-May 2001-02 increased by 5.10 percent at $ 7.24 billion as compared to $ 6.89 billion during the same period last year. But, imports declined by 3.74 percent at $ 8.4 billion as  against $ 8.7 billion during April-May 2000-01. 
 
The good performance in exports, coupled with the decline in imports, helped reduce the trade deficit during April-May 2001-2002 to $ 1.1 billion compared to $ 1.8 billion during the corresponding period last year. 

WB to push seafood exports 
West Bengal government is to give a boost to the Rs.600 crore seafood export industry of the state. In a bid to improve quality exports and ensure World Trade Organisation compliant standards, state government has drawn up the blueprint for its first state of the art seafood export processing zone. The export processing zone, which envisages a capital outlay of Rs.10 crore, is expected to be ready in two years. A committee for governing quality of seafood exports would also be set up. 

Central assistance to be linked to states' exports 
The commerce department has decided to link central assistance for exports to a state's quantum of exports and growth rate from the current fiscal itself. 
 
A 50-50 weightage will be given to the exports level and the growth rate while sanctioning the assistance. Sources said the Centre would provide the entire fund to a state without allocating it to particular schemes. A committee headed by the state chief secretary will then allocate funds to various schemes. The move has been initiated to increase the state governments' participation in increasing India's exports and also to curb wastage of funds. 
 
Fiscal deficit up 
Fiscal deficit in April 2001 was Rs.15,051 crore, an increase of 18 percent over the corresponding month last fiscal. 
 
The past fiscal year ended with a deficit of 5.21 percent of the GDP as against the revised estimates of 5.1 percent on account of a Rs.15,178 crore shortfall in revenue collections. 
 
Market borrowings during the first April shot up to Rs. 29,525 crore against Rs.8,694 crore during the corresponding month last fiscal. 
 
The deterioration in the fiscal position has been mainly due to the fall in revenue earnings. The non plan expenditure during April this year has been estimated at Rs.12,835 crore compared to Rs.12,249 crore earlier. The fiscal deficit moved up to Rs.1,14,369 crore in 2000-2001 from the revised estimates of Rs.1,11,972 crore.