Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

The burden of India’s cash transfer scheme

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The government’s cash transfer scheme (CTS) has been accepted by economists as the most  efficient method of delivering subsidies to the poor. This became possible with the identification of the poor after the introduction of “Aadhaar” or unique identity scheme. The scheme is going to be implemented from the beginning of 2013.

The Congress party is excited because the scheme can prove to be an excellent vote magnate magnet. Cash in hand is a good enough incentive even if it is in replacement of invisible subsidies. UPA-II came to power mainly on the basis of a loan waiver to farmers which cost the government 600 billion rupees. Possibly, CTS would not need any additional outlays and may actually reduce the burden on the exchequer. The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party has been quick to understand the scheme’s political appeal and is protesting its introduction for one reason or the other.

A pilot project for CTS was started a year back in Kotkasim block in Rajasthan that has 25,000 households. Preliminary results indicate that the scheme was a flop. It was intended primarily to replace the state subsidy of 14 rupees per litre on kerosene. With the withdrawal of the subsidy, prices increased while the cash transfer got delayed or did not take place at all. The government did not have in place an efficient system to replace subsidy by cash delivery. That is likely to happen when the scheme is extended to 51 districts from January 1.

Yet another infructuous parliament session?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Thomson Reuters)

The last session of parliament was a washout. The present one looks to be no different going by its chaotic start.

Higher growth can help lower deficit

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

India’s bloating budget deficit has been a matter of concern. It means more borrowing by the government which results in overcrowding of the debt market and consequently, a higher rate of interest for the private sector. It also raises the rate on borrowings from abroad due to the downgrading by rating agencies which is bound to follow.

Economic consequences of deadlock in Parliament

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The monsoon session of Parliament has been a washout without any important business being transacted. This has been made out to be a political strategy on the part of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to force early elections. Obviously, the Congress-led coalition is unlikely to oblige. The unintended victim is the economy which has been stopped from getting back to growth.

Why the RBI preferred an SLR cut

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The first quarter review of monetary policy did not create any ripples. The stock market remained flat and investors and consumers showed little interest. That was because RBI Governor Duvvuri Subbarao had made enough noise earlier that the time was not right and conditions were not suitable for a rate cut.

Consequences of an export squeeze

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

In June, exports shrank more than five percent to $25 billion largely due to recessionary conditions in major importing countries such as the U.S. and the EU. Although exports are not as critical to us as they are to Singapore or China, they do count for a lot.

The growth versus inflation dilemma

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The RBI is concerned about inflation; the finance ministry has growth as its priority. That, as RBI Governor D. Subbarao mentioned, makes the two almost look like adversaries.

The enigma of diesel prices

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

Budget considerations make it necessary to raise prices of diesel; political exigencies make that difficult. No wonder Chief Economic Adviser Kaushik Basu was cautious enough to suggest ‘partial decontrol’. But the present is the time to do more than that.

No silver lining in this monsoon cloud

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

India’s monsoon rains have been delayed and were already 30 percent deficient by the end of June. There are doubts whether rains will pick up during the rest of the season. August and September are likely to be dry which will damage crops and reduce farm incomes.

Foreign borrowing or foreign investment?

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

The market’s response to the currency measures announced on Monday was a dip in the Sensex. Much was expected after the announcement made over the weekend by the finance minister. What has been actually initiated cannot make much difference either to the rupee or to growth.

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