Mr. Asit Bhatia
Vice Chairman of the Global
Corporate & Investment Banking Group at India
Bank of America
Mr. Asit Bhatia
Vice Chairman of the Global
Corporate & Investment Banking Group at India
Bank of America
This is the first of a series of Expert Insights on 2024 that the Bombay Chamber of Commerce & Industry will be posting, featuring industry experts who will give their outlook on what this year has in store.
“Of the 22 countries that get into elections in 2024, India is amongst the important ones. While fiscal profligacy in the run up to elections is not unheard of, the current government is expected to continue its focus on some additional expenditure to fuel growth,” said Asit Bhatia, Vice Chairman of the Global Corporate & Investment Banking Group at India Bank of America, as he reflected on the economic outlook for 2024 amidst the evolving global economic landscape.
Bhatia anticipates a period of stability and growth, with India poised to deliver steady and sustainable growth despite the volatile global macroeconomic environment. “I see the next several years as a golden period for India,” he added, expressing confidence that India’s growth rate could exceed the anticipated 6.5-7% over the next couple of years.
Acknowledging the commendable job by the Government and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) in managing inflationary pressures, Bhatia emphasised the potential for further growth. “Various factors underscore India’s resilience in the face of global economic challenges,” he noted, citing the Government’s infrastructure push, healthy corporate balance sheets, robust consumption narrative, and well-capitalised banks witnessing heightened credit growth.
Assessing the current business environment in India, Bhatia highlights robust macroeconomic fundamentals, including high growth, manageable fiscal deficits, controlled inflation, and improving current account deficits. “The Government’s reform-driven approach (GST, IBC, RERA, labor laws etc.) has improved ease of doing business in India,” he said. Bhatia cited the key factors that will influence investment decisions as political instability that will jeopardise policy continuity, external shocks from geopolitical issues and rate/policy paths of global central banks.
Anticipating the factors influencing investment decisions in 2024, Bhatia pointed to potential risks such as political instability and external shocks arising from geopolitical tensions. While he believes that no specific sectors of concern but underscores the attractiveness of India’s manufacturing and consumption narrative, the services sector catering to global demands, and the financial sector poised for substantial credit growth due to under-penetration.
Examining the role of government policies in shaping the business landscape in 2024, Bhatia emphasised their pivotal importance adding that taxation policies, capital controls, protectionism, and infrastructure development initiatives are significant determinants of economic growth. He anticipates a continued thrust on reforms from the government, conducive to attracting foreign investment and fostering domestic capex. “We see rapid infrastructure ramp up, de-carbonisation (500GW renewable capacity by FY30), step up in exports (on implementation of PLI schemes), opening up of government monopolies (privatisation), improving tax compliance (increasing tax filers), rising digitisation and financial inclusion to continue to provide scope for India’s corporate earnings to outpace its nominal GDP growth structurally.”
Amidst the optimism, however, he cautions against overlooking external factors such as geopolitical tensions and recessionary trends in developed nations, which could hinder India’s growth trajectory, “I do see the global geo-political situation, recessionary trends in some of the more developed countries, a global high-interest rate / inflationary environment, as some of the key factors that can hinder India’s growth, as we are now more than ever entwined with the global economy.”
“The nation’s resilience in the face of global supply disruptions reflects its growing importance in the global landscape” – Mr. Sandeep Khosla, Director General, Bombay Chamber
More than 100 senior executives from the Alliance of CEO Climate Leaders, the world’s largest CEO-led community committed to net zero emissions, signed an open letter recently ahead of the COP28 climate conference, calling on leaders from the public and private sectors to accelerate net-zero actions to reduce carbon emissions for the benefit of society, public health and the global economy.
The latest IPCC report has confirmed that the world is on course to breach the critical barrier of 1.5°C warming within the next two decades, setting a path to cascading climate tipping points and irreversible damage to the Earth’s planetary systems. Limiting the average global temperature increase to 1.5°C would require 50% emissions reductions by 2030 – amounting to annual emission reductions greater than what was achieved during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest report from S&P Global Market Intelligence, India is poised to become the world’s third-largest economy, surpassing Japan by 2030. The report anticipates that India’s GDP will double, reaching $7.3 trillion, up from $3.5 trillion in 2022. This rapid economic growth will lead to India overtaking Japan as the second-largest economy in the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, Japan holds the third position globally, following the United States and China.
The substantial increase in foreign direct investment into India over the past decade reflects the promising long-term growth prospects of the Indian economy. This growth is driven by a youthful demographic profile and rapidly rising urban household incomes. By 2022, India’s GDP had already exceeded that of the United Kingdom and France. The report also predicts that by 2030, India’s GDP will surpass Germany’s.
Notably, Japan is expected to slip to the fourth position in the world economy rankings based on US dollar valuation, as Germany takes over the third spot. The International Monetary Fund’s projections support this change.
India stands out as an outperformer in the emerging market landscape, with the private sector experiencing the second-fastest sales growth in over 13 years, contributing to overall economic expansion. While Russia reported robust growth, mainland China’s expansion slowed, and Brazil faced economic contraction during the survey period, as highlighted by S&P.
The report also underscores the global economic slowdown, which reached its lowest point in eight months by the end of the third quarter. Furthermore, the first contraction in global new orders and a significant decrease in work backlogs suggest potential weaknesses in the coming months.
The RBI has instructed banks to ensure the presence of at least two Whole Time Directors (WTDs), including the MD & CEO, on the boards of banks. As per the RBI, the number of WTDs shall be decided by the Board of the bank by taking into account factors such as the size of operations, business complexity, and other relevant aspects.
Further, RBI has said that banks lacking two executives in directorial roles must present proposals for the appointment within a four-month timeframe. “Given the growing complexity of the banking sector, it becomes imperative to establish an effective senior management team in the banks to navigate ongoing and emerging challenges. Establishment of such a team may also facilitate succession planning, especially in the background of the regulatory stipulations in respect of tenure and upper age limit for Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer (MD & CEO) positions,” the RBI has said in a statement.
Startups registered with DPIIT will not be subject to assessment proceedings relating to Angel Tax amendments made in Budget 2023.
The Income Tax Department had last month notified new angel tax rules for evaluating the shares issued by unlisted startups to investors.
While previously the angel tax – a tax levied on capital received on the sale of shares of a startup above the fair market value – was applicable only to local investors, the Budget for the 2023-24 fiscal (April 2023 to March 2024) widened its ambit to include foreign investments.
As per the Budget, the excess premium will be considered as ‘income from sources’ and taxed at the rate of up to over 30 per cent. However, startups registered by the DPIIT were exempt from the new norms.
India’s Wholesale Price Index (WPI) reported a provisional annual deflation of 0.26% in September 2023, marking a decline from the previous month’s rate of -0.52% in August 2023. The decline in prices was attributed to decreases in chemical and chemical products, mineral oils, textiles, basic metals, and food products compared to the corresponding month of the previous year.
The WPI and inflation rates for all commodities and major groups for the past three months are:
All Commodities (Weight: 100.0%): The WPI decreased from 152.4 in August 2023 to 151.5 in September 2023, with a corresponding drop in the annual inflation rate from -0.52% to -0.26%.
Primary Articles (Weight: 22.62%): The WPI decreased to 182.4 in September 2023, showing an annual inflation rate of 3.70%, compared to 189.6 and 6.34% in August 2023.
Fuel & Power (Weight: 13.15%): The WPI increased to 153.1 in September 2023, resulting in an annual inflation rate of -3.35%, compared to 149.6 and -6.03% in August 2023.
Manufactured Products (Weight: 64.23%): The WPI increased to 140.3 in September 2023, with an annual inflation rate of -1.34%, compared to 139.8 and -2.37% in August 2023.
Food Index (Weight: 24.38%): The WPI declined to 177.8 in September 2023, showing an annual inflation rate of 1.54%, compared to 186.1 and 5.62% in August 2023.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) report for October 2023, released on October 10th, has revised India’s economic growth projection for the current fiscal year. It now stands at 6.3 percent, an increase from the previous estimate of 6.1 percent. The IMF anticipates that retail inflation in India will climb to 5.5 percent in fiscal year 2023-24 before gradually declining to 4.6 percent in 2024-25.
“Growth in India is projected to remain strong, at 6.3 per cent in both 2023 and 2024, with an upward revision of 0.2 percentage points for 2023, reflecting stronger-than-expected consumption during April-June,” said the IMF. This is the second time that the IMF has made an upward revision to India’s growth forecast.
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