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Pushing for reforms, the Economic Survey said inflationary impact of foreign funds flow, a slowdown in the US, an appreciating rupee and sluggish infrastructure sector were major challenges before economy. "The new challenge is to maintain growth at these levels, not to speak of raising it further to double digit levels," stated the Survey, a report card on the economy, presented in Parliament on Thursday. The Survey, considered to be a report card of the government, outlined several concerns like impact of US sub-prime crisis, loss of dynamism in agriculture, appreciating rupee eroding India's export competitiveness, deceleration in industrial growth and managing capital inflows. The Survey, tabled by Finance Minister P Chidambaram in the Lok Sabha, suggested a slew of reform measures that alone could help raise the growth to an ambitious double digit level. "Raising growth to double digit... will require additional reforms." These include opening retail to FDI, hiking FDI in insurance to 49 per cent, allowing 100 per cent FDI in new private rural agricultural banks, selling up to 10 per cent equity of Navratna (cash-rich) PSUs. "There is an urgent need for a regime that supports predictable user charges, a financial system that allocates risk efficiently...," it said. The document stated that the recent hike in fuel prices would add 19 basis points to the inflation rate projected at 4.4 per cent for the year 2007-08. "Of late, the change in the structure of the economy and its more globalised nature has made management of inflation a complex task," it said, adding that the rising capital inflows will require monetary policy to play a more decisive role. While the macro economic fundamentals continue to boost confidence, the decisive change in growth trend also shows that the economy was "perhaps not fully prepared for the different set of challenges that accompany fast growth". The rupee appreciation of 8.9 per cent between April 3, 2007 and February 6, 2008 affected exports in some sectors with low import intensity. Besides the rupee impact, the US slowdown is also expected to hit the exports. "The US economy is expected to slow down in 2008, consequent to the sub-prime crises. Most projections of the world economy suggest a moderate but not severe slowdown in world growth. This will impact both the demand for India's exports and the value of imports," the Survey stated. It said the sub-prime crisis in the US may lead to additional capital flows into India and other emerging markets. "The situation of excess inflows is likely to remain, though the pressure on reserve accumulation and exchange rate appreciation is likely to ease," the Survey said. In the longer term, the solution to excess capital inflows lies in deepening productivity gains and addressing the root causes like interest differential and build-up of expectations on the rupee. The policy reforms options listed in the Survey also included allowing regulated private entry into coal mining, phasing out control on sugar, fertiliser and drugs and selling old oil fields to private sector.



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