"(Indian Express) Q. Reduction in interest burden could possibly prevent more companies heading towards bankruptcy- The ‘tight fiscal, easy monetary’ policy mix can better address problems that plague private investment.
• The finance ministry has stressed that it will stick to the path of fiscal consolidation. While a move away from the announced targets to give the economy a stimulus may have seemed attractive in light of the signs of slower growth, the policy would not have been the most suitable for reviving investment, the biggest challenge facing the economy.
• After the mid-year review suggested that fiscal targets may need to be revised. First, the debt to GDP ratio would remain under control. Equally important, the finance minister would maintain his credibility, particularly since he has already deviated once from the path. The decision of the government to stick to the path of the announced fiscal targets is good not just in the long run. It is also more likely to help in the short term.
• One immediate gain of sticking to the path of consolidation will be to create space for monetary policy easing. The sharp decline in global commodity prices and the slowdown in demand in the domestic economy have reduced inflationary pressures.
• A fiscal stimulus would increase the likelihood of demand rising and pushing up the inflation forecast. While deciding the policy interest rate, monetary policymakers target the forecast of inflation and analyse the pressures of demand on core inflation. With a slowdown in global demand, investment and domestic demand, a greater easing of the stance of monetary policy may be more possible today than perhaps even a year ago. This opportunity could be lost if the government had chosen to pursue a policy of fiscal expansion.
• A loose fiscal policy would, therefore, have effectively meant that policymakers would be choosing the “loose fiscal, tight money” policy mix. This is sometimes justified by arguing that, given the poor transmission of monetary policy in India, its impact is limited compared to that of public investment, which involves direct spending by the government and raises demand instantly.
• Early in 2015, the government and the RBI adopted inflation targeting as an objective of monetary policy. Inflation targeting is adopted by governments and central banks to tie down their own hands.
• The best strategy for the government, therefore, lies not in giving up the inflation target, or in changing the measure of inflation adopted, the consumer price index, because it is higher than the wholesale price index, or in changing the glide path towards the target, but in creating the conditions that would keep inflationary pressures down.
• In the present context, adhering to the announced path of fiscal consolidation would allow the “tight fiscal, easy monetary” policy mix that is more suited to addressing the troubles that plague private investment. The RBI should respond to this commitment by cutting interest rates.
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