ECONOMIC SCENE 
 
5.9% growth projected for 1999-2000  

The Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) has estimated the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growing at 5.9 p.c. in 1999-2000 (slightly higher than last year's 5.8 p.c.).  

The growth in industrial production is estimated at atleast 6 p.c. and agricultural production only 1.3 p.c (7.8 p.c. last year).  

Key industries like cement, steel, aluminium, automobiles and fertilisers are expected to better their performance.  

Exports in dollar terms are estimated to grow at 7 per cent (4 per cent decline last year). Imports will grow 8.2 p.c., 0.8 p.c. last year).  

Net capital inflows are estimated at eight billion dollars, almost the same as in the previous year.  

The rate of inflation is expected to continue to remain low in the first half of 1999-2000) but pick up in the  second half of the year as the effect of high base levels of the earlier year erode.  

Growth rate for 1998-99 revised upwards to 6%  

Buoyancy in agriculture output has prompted the Central Statistical Organisation (CSO) to revise the economic growth rate for 1998-99 upwards to 6.0 per cent as against 5.8 per cent estimated earlier.The revised GDP estimate is Rs. 11, 12,206 crore as against Rs.10,49,191 crore on quick estimate basis for 1997-98.  

CSO also decided to release quarterly estimates of GDP to conform to the special data dissemination standards system introduced by the International Monetary Fund beginning the quarter-ended March 31.The GDP growth rate for the quarter worked out to 8.4 per cent.  

Fiscal deficit slips to 7.03% in 1998-99  

The fiscal deficit for 1998-99 based on the actuals has slipped to 7.03 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) compared to 6.5 per cent reported in the revised estimates for the year and 5.6 per cent targeted in Union Budget presented in June. 1998.  

The slippage is due to a shortfall in revenue collections and due to excess accrual from small savings, which more than offset some reduction in total expenditure which government was able to effect.  

I-T Collection ups 25%  

Income Tax collection has been over Rs. 4000 crore in the first quarter of 1999-2000, a 25 per cent increase over the corresponding period last year. The increase is officially attributed to widening of tax base and simplification in tax collection procedures. Seven lakh new assessees are reported to have been added to the list.  

Per capita cloth availability goes up  

The per capita availability of cloth in the country comprising products of cloth, textile and man made fibre mills, has increased over the four year period 1993-94 to 1997-98 from 26.22 sq. metres to 30.92 sq. metres, a rise of nearly 18 p.c.  

India 52nd on WEF list  

According to the Global Competitiveness Report of the Geneva based World Economic Forum for 1999, India ranks 52nd (as against 50th earlier) in the annual economic  survey which covers 59 countries.  

Singapore retains the top ranking while US moved up one notch to the second position at the expense of Hong Kong which goes down to the third position.  

The report predicts India's rank as 30th, by 2008.  

Import norms for second hand capital good notified  

The union government on August 4 issued detailed, guidelines for import of second-hand capital goods, including permission for import of machinery up to five years old without licence.  

According to the notification, which is expected to give a boost to infrastructure and modernisation of textile industry, machinery between five and ten years old may be imported after consideration by an inter-ministerial licensing committee set up under the Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT).  

Machinery over 10 years old would not normally be allowed except in the case of heavy equipment in the infrastructure and core sector industries.  

Foreign currency assets up $ 168m  

India's foreign currency assets increased by $ 168 million to $ 30,760 million during the week ended July 30, 1999. The total foreign exchange reserves were up to $ 33,474 million, according to RBI's weekly statistical supplement.  

India - Japan panel on investment  

India and Japan on August 10 decided to set up a working group and three sector-specific sub groups to identify investment opportunities as also the impediments faced by Japanese investors in India.  

The three sector specific sub groups would be for information technology, food processing and infrastructure. The sub-groups, which would comprise industry representatives from both the countries were to be constituted by this August end and given a time frame of four months to give their reports to the co-chairman of the working group.  

India's export growth rate among highest in Asia during current year  

India's export growth rate in US dollar terms is estimated to be the highest in Asia during the current year, according to latest foreign trade trends in the major trading nations of Asia, published in the Far Eastern Economic Review. According to this data, during February to April 1999, India recorded a growth of 5.8% followed by Malaysia at 3.7%. The comparable figures for the same period (February-April 1999) for several other countries in the region have been negative.  

During the first quarter (April-June 1999) according to the provisional data available from DGCI&S, Calcutta, India's exports at US $ 7.9 billion have been 6.50% higher than the level of exports in April-June 1998. Exports during the month of June 1999 were valued at US $2.6 billion which was 11.14% higher than the level of US $ 2.3 billion in June 1998.