ECONOMIC NOTES

The ‘Magic’ of GST

MUCH hype has surrounded the transition to the Goods and Service Tax (GST regime) which has tended to be elevated to the status of being the magical solution to all of India’s economic problems. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth. Quite independent of the intrinsic merits or demerits of GST compared with the structure of taxes it has replaced, the changeover does not address the fundamental challenges of the Indian economy even in the sphere of taxation.

A Dangerous Analogy

NARENDRA Modi’s attempt to imitate Jawaharlal Nehru by giving a mid-night speech on July 1 at the Central Hall of parliament, while inaugurating the Goods and Services Tax, could perhaps be passed off as a merely laughable idiosyncracy. His equating, or even putting on a parallel footing, a mere tax-reform with the grand historic event of India’s attaining independence, could perhaps be shrugged off as just harmless self-promotion by one who prides himself as the author of the tax-reform.

The Question of Farm-Loan Waiver

THE question of farm-loan waiver that is being demanded by the peasantry is much misunderstood. Such a waiver, it is argued by critics, would vitiate the credit-culture in the country: people would stop repaying loans henceforth in expectation of waivers on them. Since the UPA government had waived farm-loans a few years ago and now again there is a demand for a farm-loan waiver, peasants, they contend, are getting into a habit of not paying loans and demanding periodic waivers instead.

The Slowdown in GDP Growth

WHEN the CSO had released advance estimates of GDP for the October-December quarter of 2016-17, within which demonetisation had occurred, the fact that the economy had still shown a 7 per cent growth rate, had been an occasion for much celebration in government circles. It had been used by the government to argue that, contrary to the claims of the critics, demonetisation had not hurt the economy.

What is a Derivative?

AT a class I took for SFI activists on May 29 on political economy, someone asked me the question: what is a derivative? My answer, I could feel, was unclear to the audience. Since other comrades too would be having this question in mind, I thought I should attempt, hopefully, a clearer answer here.

A Simple Arithmetic

THE Modi government is completing three years in office amid much fanfare and propaganda about its achievements during this period. Aiding this propaganda is the advance estimate of GDP which projects a growth-rate of 7.11 per cent for 2016-17, a shade lower than last year’s 7.93 per cent, but apparently impressive nonetheless. Despite the fact that the chief statistician has clarified that these figures are based on data for only seven moths (April-October) of the current fiscal year, and that the effects of demonetisation are not captured by this figure, the hype goes on undeterred.

World Capitalist Crisis Getting Accentuated

AT the last spring meeting of the IMF and the World Bank, Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, had confidently stated that the world economy was on the path of recovery, a view echoed by most official soothsayers of the system. And yet within days of Lagarde’s remark, fresh data showed that the US economy whose tentative recovery had been the cause of this optimism, was once more slowing down.

Bank Privatisation: The Final Push?

THAT the large non-performing assets (NPAs) on the books of banks, especially public sector banks, is the only blemish in India’s continuing economic story, is the official view. Speaking recently at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reportedly declared that NPAs were “one very big challenge” facing the government, and resolving that problem was its “top priority”. Parallel to this, others such as top-level Reserve Bank of India officials, have been floating trial balloons, in the form of recommendations on various methods of addressing the NPAs.

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