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Indian govt took ‘very decisive’ steps to deal with coronavirus, structural reforms working well: IMF chief

Georgieva said that she is impressed by the appetite for structural reforms that India is retaining. "We welcome that. No question those reforms will determine competitiveness in the future", she said.

Kristalina Georgieva, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund on Thursday praised Modi government for taking “very decisive” steps to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its economic consequences.

Speaking at a global media roundtable on Thursday, the IMF Managing Director predicted a ‘less bad’ outlook for India in the upcoming World Economic Update due to the effective steps taken by the Modi government. The Bulgarian economist Kristalina Georgieva also asked the country to do more this year to support an accelerated transformation of the economy.

“When I called on everybody to stay tuned for January 26, that applies very much to India. You would see a picture in our update that is less bad. Why? Because the country actually has taken very decisive action, very decisive steps to deal with the pandemic and to deal with the economic consequences of it,” Georgieva said.

The International Monetary Fund is scheduled to release its World Economic Update on January 26.

Restrictions, lockdown along with policy support worked well: IMF chief

Speaking about India, the IMF chief opined that it was a very dramatic lockdown for a country of this size of the population with people clustered so closely together.

“Then India moved to more targeted restrictions and lockdowns. What we see is that transition, combined with policy support, seems to have worked well. Why? Because if you look at mobility indicators, we are almost where we were before COVID in India, meaning that economic activities have been revitalised quite significantly,” she said.

She said the steps taken by the Modi government on the monetary policy and the fiscal policy side is commendable. It is actually slightly above the average for emerging markets, she added.

According to Kristalina Georgieva, India has outdone emerging markets, which on average have provided six per cent of the GDP. “Good for India is that there is still space to do more. If you can do more, please do,” Georgieva said.

She added that 2021 is the year to use and use it wisely in a more targeted manner to support an accelerated transformation of the economy. The IMF chief said that it was amazing to see how much faster structural change takes place and policymakers ought to be leaning forward in this environment to support this structural transformation and to cushion the impact it has on those that are on the losing side of it.

India has an appetite for structural reforms, says IMF top Economist

Georgieva said that she is impressed by the appetite for structural reforms that India is retaining. “We welcome that. No question those reforms, and actually that applies very much to South Africa… will determine competitiveness in the future. We need higher productivity. We need more vibrant and inclusive economies. And they are not going to fall from the sky. There have to be reforms that support them,” she said.

Appreciating the fact that Modi government does not give up on structural reforms, she said, “And I’m saying, yes, do it! Because the world change is accelerating and economies have to be agile and adaptable to change. We have to be constantly leaning forward.”

At the same time, she emphasised that one of the aspects of India’s reforms that are still lagging is on gender equality.

“I want to just stress it is scary to see how we are losing ground on gender equality over these months so fast. Women are front line workers…They are often in the informal economy, help cannot easily reach them, so they are hit, she said. ….once people start losing jobs, who is to lose jobs first? [Again] women are on the front line. Labour market participation in India for women has been low. It is shrinking…I know the government is paying attention, it is moving in that [direction], but there is so much space to tap into the productive potential of women and the entrepreneurial potential of women,” Georgieva said.

In its October outlook, the IMF has projected India to contract by a massive 10.3 per cent in 2020. However, India is likely to bounce back with an impressive 8.8 per cent growth rate in 2021, the global financial institution had said.

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