Like last year, the Survey records the sparkling performance of the farm sector, but also draws satisfaction from the recovery clocked by manufacturing and the fact that the second and third waves failed to knock down the services sector, which accounts for over 50% of the economy. It seems to heave a sigh of relief that the damage from the deadly Delta variant was not as severe as initially feared.
The document tabled in Parliament strikes a note of balance in that it neither predicts a V-shaped recovery nor succumbs to the pessimistic projection of a U-shaped long haul. When asked, principal economic advisor Sanjeev Sanyal described it as a tilted W, essentially meaning that predicting the exact shape of revival could be hazardous.
Unlike the past, when the Survey sought to provide the reform road map, the latest edition has focused more on the economic assessment for the current financial year, with just a sprinkling of steps that may be needed. For instance, it calls for policy measures to address seasonal price variations in products such as tomatoes and onions. Similarly, it argues in favour of higher investment in farming, especially via the private sector.
The key thrust of the annual paper is on listing out measures taken by the government over the last two years in supporting the poor and vulnerable and measures to aid various sectors, while pushing “process reforms”.
The finance ministry’s pre-budget analysis points to robust revenues, which gives the government much-needed fiscal headroom to provide a further boost, if necessary, and strengthen the growth impulses. In addition, it lists out other positives such as high foreign exchange reserves, rebound in exports, resilience of the farm sector and a strong vaccination drive adding to the overall confidence.