India GDP growth slows to 3.1% in Q4, stands at 11-year low of 4.2% in FY20

The growth numbers were broadly in line with estimates by brokerages and economists
India’s economy grew 3.1 per cent in the January-March quarter compared with the same period last year, official data showed on Friday, reflecting the partial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. The headline number for the full FY20 financial year came to an 11-year low of 4.2 per cent, against 6.1 per cent in 2018-19, said the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (Mospi) in a statement. 

India’s eight infrastructure sectors contracted by a record 38.1 per cent in April, data from the industry department showed earlier in the day.

The services sector, which accounts for 55 per cent of GDP, was among the hardest hit in a nationwide lockdown imposed since March 25 to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Trade, hotels and transport grew 2.6 per cent in the January-March quarter from a year ago, while financial services expanded 2.4 per cent. 

“Crawling out of this malaise caused by this health crisis (coronavirus) will require a lot more hard work,” Indranil Pan, chief economist at IDFC First Bank, told CNBC-TV18.

The growth numbers were broadly in line with estimates by brokerages and economists, who have seen the economy headed for a recession in FY21. The government is working on a new set of guidelines for the lockdown to be issued this weekend. 

The first Advance Estimates, released in January for Budget preparations, pegged the economic growth rate at 5 per cent in 2019-20. The second Advance Estimates, released on February 28, also projected the FY20 growth rate at 5 per cent, though there were changes in growth in various segments within overall economy and in various quarters compared to that in the first Advance Estimates.

Home Minister Amit Shah met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday to discuss the lockdown, which is due to end on Sunday. Media reports said Shah, who spoke to chief ministers on Thursday, discussed how to restart economic activity amid a steady increase in coronavirus cases.

The full impact of the lockdown on manufacturing and services will become more apparent in the June quarter, with Goldman Sachs predicting a 45 per cent contraction from a year ago.

Weather forecasts for normal monsoon rains are in farmers' favour at least, giving hope that the rural sector can help support the millions of migrant workers who returned to their villages from the cities when the lockdown began.

Number of coronavirus affected people in India has crossed 165,799 with 4,706 deaths, with an average daily jump of 6,000 cases in the last one week.

Unlike some advanced economies, India's Rs 21 trillion stimulus package has largely focussed on subsidised credit to small businesses and farmers, while direct fiscal stimulus was limited to around 1 per cent of the GDP, economists said.

The Reserve Bank of India cut policy rates by 40 basis points earlier this month, and has reduced its key repo rate by 115 basis points since February.

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