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Simplify GST to maintain high growth, IMF tells India

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Also urges a clean-up of banks’ balance sheets as it projects growth at 7.8% for FY 19-20.

Washington: To sustain its high growth rate, India should carry out banking sector reforms, continue with fiscal consolidation and simplify GST as well as renew impetus to reforms of key markets, the IMF suggested today.

India’s growth accelerated to 7.7 per cent in the fourth quarter of financial year 2017-18. That was up from 7 per cent in the previous quarter, IMF Communications Director Gerry Rice told reporters at his fortnightly news conference.

“We expect the recovery to continue in FY 2018-19. Growth is projected at 7.4 per cent in FY 2018-19 and actually 7.8 per cent in FY 19-20, respectively,” Rice said.

In order to sustain the high growth rate, Rice suggested three steps for India to follow.

To revive bank credit and enhance the efficiency of credit provision by accelerating the cleanup of bank and corporate balance sheets and enhancing the governance of public sector banks, he said.

India should continue fiscal consolidation and lower elevated public debt levels supported by simplifying and streamlining the goods and services tax (GST) structure, he said.

“And thirdly, over the medium-term, renew impetus to reforms of key markets, for example, labour and land, as well as improving the overall business climate would be crucial to improving competitiveness and again, maintaining that very high level of growth in India,” Rice said.

The IMF Board is tentatively scheduled to meet on July 18 for its annual meeting on India.

“We will be releasing the staff report in relation to that Board meeting and it will have details (about GST),” he said when asked about simplifying and streamlining of the goods and services tax structure.

It (GST) is a complicated tax to administer and to implement, so some suggestions for streamlining can be important, he said.

The IMF is scheduled to release on July 16 the update on World Economic Outlook. -PTI

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