ASSOCHAM has approached to its 98th Foundation Day and moving a step ahead to celebrate our centenary in the year 2020. On behalf of ASSOCHAM, I thank all the stakeholders including the Government, bureaucrats & all our beloved members for their whole hearted support to help the Chamber achieve this milestone.
After a period of slowdown in the economy, India is reclaiming its place as a growth leader, as recognized by International Monetary Fund (IMP). The sun is shining on the global economy and capital-intensive investment and consumer demand are rising. With strong consumption and investment, rising exports, and steady capital inflows, the outlook for Asian region remains bright. Recently, World Bank had also projected India's growth rate in 2018 at 7.3 per cent and 7.5 per cent in the next two years. India is estimated to have grown at 6.7 per cent in 2017 despite initial setbacks from demonetization and the Goods and Services Tax (GST), according to the 2018 Global Economics Prospect released by the World Bank recently. According to World Bank, China grew at 6.8 per cent in 2017, 0.1 per cent more than that of India, while in 2018, its growth rate is projected at 6.4 per cent and in the next two years, the country's growth rate will drop marginally to 6.3 and 6.2 per cent, respectively.
According to Central Statistics Office (CSO), India's economic growth is expected to slow to a four-year low of 6.5 per cent in the 2017-18 fiscal, the lowest under the Modi-led government, mainly due to poor performance of agriculture and manufacturing sectors.
Finance Minister Shri Arun [aitley will present India's first post-GST and the current government's last full Budget on February 1. This will be his 5th Budget in a row. Only proposals for changes in direct taxes, both personal income tax and corporate tax, besides customs duty, are likely to be presented in the Budget along with new schemes and programmes of the government. ASSOCHAM has submitted their proposals and we are expecting that the budget will focus on Corporate Tax, Infrastructure, Agriculture, Manufacturing to promote 'Make in India', Digital economy, Credit offtake & Start-ups.
India's wholesale price inflation cooled to 3.58% in December led by a softer rise in food inflation, official data showed recently. WPI had risen 3.93% in November and 2.1% in December last year. As per the data released, inflation in food articles slowed to 4.72% in December from 6.06% in November. Last week, the retail inflation for the month of December had come at a 17-month high of 5.21 per cent, up from 4.88 percent in the previous month. The rate of inflation based on WPI Food Index consisting of 'Food Articles' from Primary Articles group and 'Food Product' from Manufactured Products group decreased from 4.1% in November to 2.91% in December. Vegetables inflation witnessed some softening at 56.46% in December as against 59.8% in the previous month. However, onions witnessed a whopping 197.05% rise in inflation.
The commerce ministry is working on new schemes for the next Foreign Trade Policy (FTP), to be released in 2019-20, with a view to boost exports, The ministry has asked all the commodity boards and the concerned ministries to identify those 'support' structures, which are compliant to global trade rules. The ministry has recently released the mid-term review of the current foreign trade policy. He five-year foreign trade policy provides guidelines for enhancing exports with the overall objective of pushing economic growth and generating employment.
ASSOCHAM is committed to keep working closely with the government in line with the genuine demand of the industry to make policies, conducive for the business environment.
Wish you all a very happy Lohri, Pongal, Bihu & Makar Sankranti.