World Bank projects Indian economy to grow at 7.5% in 2024

The Indian economy is projected to grow at 7.5 percent in 2024, the World Bank has said, revising its earlier projections for the same period by 1.2 percent
World Bank projects Indian economy to grow at 7.5% in 2024
World Bank projects Indian economy to grow at 7.5% in 2024PSU Watch Archives

New Delhi: The Indian economy is projected to grow at 7.5 percent in 2024, the World Bank has said, revising its earlier projections for the same period by 1.2 percent.

Overall, growth in South Asia is expected to be strong at 6.0 percent in 2024, driven mainly by robust growth in India and recoveries in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, the World Bank said in its latest South Asia Development Update on Tuesday.

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According to the report, South Asia is expected to remain the fastest-growing region in the world for the next two years, with growth projected to be 6.1 prcent in 2025.

“In India, which accounts for the bulk of the region’s economy, output growth is expected to reach 7.5 percent in FY23/24 before returning to 6.6 percent over the medium term, with activity in services and industry expected to remain robust,” the bank said in its report. In Bangladesh, output is expected to rise by 5.7% in FY24/25, with high inflation and restrictions on trade and foreign exchange constraining economic activity.

Following the contraction in FY22/23, Pakistan’s economy is expected to grow by 2.3 percent in FY24/25 as business confidence improves. In Sri Lanka, output growth is expected to strengthen to 2.5% in 2025, with modest recoveries in reserves, remittances, and tourism.

“South Asia’s growth prospects remain bright in the short run, but fragile fiscal positions and increasing climate shocks are dark clouds on the horizon,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank Vice President for South Asia. “To make growth more resilient, countries need to adopt policies to boost private investment and strengthen employment growth,” he said.

“South Asia is failing right now to fully capitalize on its demographic dividend. This is a missed opportunity,” said Franziska Ohnsorge, World Bank Chief Economist for South Asia.

If the region employed as large a share of the working-age population as other emerging markets and developing economies, its output could be 16 percent higher, Ohnsorge said.

In India, the World Bank said, economic activity surprised on the upside in 2023Q4, with growth of 8.4 percent from a year ago. “The expansion was supported by rapid increases in investment and government consumption. More recent survey data point to continued strong performance,” it said.

In February, India’s composite purchasing managers index (PMI) stood at 60.6, well above the global average of 52.1 (a value above 50 indicates expansion). Growth in FY2023/24 is estimated to have exceeded earlier forecasts, it said.

According to the report, in India, inflation has remained within the Reserve Bank of India’s 2–6 percent target range since a spike in mid-2023, and the policy rate has remained unchanged since February 2023. Food price inflation has been elevated, partly reflecting a weak harvest due to El Niño, it said.

Financial conditions in India have remained accommodative. Domestic credit issuance to the commercial sector (including public and private borrowers) grew by 14 percent (year-on-year) in December 2023, the fastest pace since 2013. Financial soundness indicators continued to improve. The nonperforming-loan ratio fell to 3.2 percent last year, well below its recent peak, in March 2018, of about 11 percent.

Regulatory capital totalled 17 percent of bank assets in the second quarter of 2023, surpassing both regulatory requirements and peer averages. FDI as a share of GDP fell in 2023, but a rebound in foreign portfolio investment inflows in FY2023/24 contributed to foreign reserves rising 8 percent in the year to January 2024, reaching a level sufficient to cover about 11 months of imports, the World Bank report said.

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“In India, output growth is projected to reach 7.5 percent in FY2023/24 on the back of robust growth in Q3 of FY2023/24. Growth is expected to moderate to 6.6 percent in FY2024/25 before picking up in subsequent years as a decade of robust public investment yields growth dividends,” the bank said.

The expected slowdown in growth between FY2023/24 and FY2024/25 mainly reflects a deceleration in investment from its elevated pace in the previous year, it said. “Growth in services and industry is expected to remain robust, the latter aided by strong construction and real estate activity. Inflationary pressures are expected to subside, creating more policy space for easing financial conditions,” it said.

“Over the medium term, the fiscal deficit and government debt are projected to decline, supported by robust output growth and consolidation efforts by the central government,” the report said.

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