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GDP Print: Second COVID wave has pushed back normalisation of consumption demand by few quarters

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The RBI will not have any further room to reduce rates as inflation remains on the higher side, so it is the Centre that will have to look for ways to revive consumption demand.

The Indian economy was within the process of getting back on its feet after it had been severely hit by a really stringent lockdown within half of the last fiscal. From a contraction of 24.4 percent Q1FY21 and after two consecutive prints of negative numbers, GDP prints turned positive within the third and fourth quarters of FY21. The full-year GDP growth was at -7.3 percent, better than -8 percent projected by the CSO. this is often excellent news little question.

However, beyond the initial joy, as you scratch the surface, the emerging story might not be as rosy. allow us to check out the expenditure side composition of the GDP that comprises private consumption, government consumption, investment demand, and net trade.

The data shows that growth within the Q4 FY21 was led by government consumption expenditure that grew by 28 percent and capital formation (or investment demand) increased by 11 percent. the expansion in capital formation was presumably thanks to a pointy increase within the government cost.

Unfortunately, the private consumption expenditure that comprises the majority of Indian GDP did not grow by any significant extent. Private consumption expenditure growth was at 2.7 percent in Q4FY21, only relatively better than the contractions witnessed within the first three quarters of the year. The share of personal consumption expenditure in current prices in Q4FY21 was at 59.2 percent, weaker than 60.4 percent in Q4FY20.

It was a known incontrovertible fact that the consumption demand was weak even before COVID-19 hit us. Last year's lockdown forced people to remain reception, while incomes were also hurt thanks to job losses and salary cuts. This led to an erosion in consumer sentiment but because the economy opened, some amount of pent-up demand came to the rescue. The second wave of the virus is probably going to possess squarely hit the method of normalization of consumption demand and will scar the economy for an extended period than is being expected.

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In the second wave, the infection has spread deep into the agricultural areas and data indicates that salaried jobs lost within the rural segment are quite within the urban segment. MNREGA is seeing pressure to supply employment, resulting in a widening gap between people seeking jobs under the program and other people getting it. While this gap can close because the sowing season gets underway, not all displaced workers will probably find work. There have been tons of reverse migration last year and possibly some this year too. Generally speaking, wages in rural areas also are less than those in urban areas.

For the urban population which has been hit by the virus, high medical expenditures and also precautionary savings to require care of future such expenditures could see consumption spending lagging whilst the economy exposes once more. Further, as long as the second wave hit us with such rage, there might be some aversion among people to venturing out, implying travel and tourism-related expenditures might be limited.

All this suggests that the expected normalization of consumption demand is often pushed back by a couple of quarters. The unintended consequence of the virus is that the inequality of income is probably going to possess widened again, a negative for consumption demand. India thrived on aspirational demand on robust expectations on future income generation and this might be truncated.

A speedy vaccination of the population is perhaps how which may enable recovery in consumer sentiments by reducing the uncertainty of the virus and fears of being suffering from further waves of infection. While the pace of vaccination had slackened, we remain hopeful that starting June supplies will end up to be better with domestic production also as imports of vaccines being ramped up.

The Federal Reserve Bank of India (RBI) won't have any longer room to scale back rates as inflation remains on the upper side. So, it's to be the Centre which might need to take up the mantle of reviving consumption demand. Higher allocations for MNREGA, implementation of an urban employment guarantee scheme, and a few cuts for the lower tax brackets could also help support demand.