The Challenge Before India Is To Grow At 8-9% And Sustain It: NITI Aayog’s Amitabh Kant
Amitabh Kant, chief executive officer of NITI Aayog in New Delhi. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

The Challenge Before India Is To Grow At 8-9% And Sustain It: NITI Aayog’s Amitabh Kant

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The government is determined to take India back to a GDP growth rate of 8-9 percent and the real challenge will be to sustain it, NITI Aayog’s Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant has said.

The government has taken several measures to boost the Indian economy, growth in which fell to a six-year-low in the three months to June.

"The government is determined to take India back to a high trajectory growth rate of 8-9 percent and the challenge before India is really to grow on a sustained basis of 8-9 percent per annum year after year for three decades or more," Kant said at the 61st Holland Memorial Lecture organised by Mining Geological & Metallurgical Institute of India, in New Delhi on Tuesday.

"But if we have to do this for the next three decades, energy (sector) has to be at the centre of this economical growth.” No country in the world has been able to grow for long periods of time without focusing on energy and managing it efficiently, he added.

Stating that India's current energy consumption per capita was only about one third of the world average, Kant said that if India aspires to be a developed nation its per capita energy consumption should increase manifold.

"Though we are comparatively an energy-efficient economy, the energy requirement per unit of GDP (gross domestic product) is much lower than the world average and we would be taking all measure to increase this efficiency further," he said.

"In the last quarter of 2017-18 we grew at 8.1 percent. This growth fell to 5 percent in the first quarter of 2019-20. And there is a lot of debate going on whether this is a cyclical downturn, whether there are structural challenges to the Indian economy.”

Several measures have been taken by the government to revive the sagging economy. The Reserve Bank of India has brought down repo rate by 110 basis points this year and the finance minister “has undertaken four economic boosters”, the NITI Aayog CEO said.

On Friday, Nirmala Sitharaman announced an almost 10-percentage-point corporate tax cut, a move that would cost the government exchequer Rs 1.45 lakh crore.

The first set of announcements was made on Aug. 23 that included the rollback of the so-called super-rich tax on foreign portfolio and domestic investors.

That was followed by the four public sector bank mergers, which will reduce the number of state-run lenders to 12 from 21.

The government has also announced a slew of measures to boost exports and real estate sector.

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