Economic analysis
India

India

Population 1 299,8 billion
GDP per capita 1742 US$
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Synthesis

major macro economic indicators

 

  2015/16 2016/17 2017/18 2018/19(f)
GDP growth* (%) 7.6 6.9 7.1 7.3
Inflation (yearly average, %) 4.9 5.5 4.0 5.3
Budget balance*** (% GDP) -3.5 -3.7 -3.5 -3.7
Current account balance (% GDP) -1.1 -0.5 -1.7 -2.0
Public debt** (% GDP) 69.6 69.5 67.8 66.5

 

(f): forecast

*Changes to the GDP calculation methodology in February 2015

** Includes central and local government debt

Fiscal year: April to March

STRENGTHS

  • Diversified growth drivers
  • High levels of savings and investment
  • Efficient private services sector
  • Moderate level of external debt and comfortable foreign exchange reserves

WEAKNESSES

  • Lack of infrastructure;  shortcomings in the education system
  • Bureaucratic red tape and persistent political tensions
  • Net importer of energy resources
  • Rising level of private firm indebtedness
  • Weak public finances
  • Persistent uncertainties over the Kashmir issue

RISK ASSESSMENT

Growth is expected to rebound from a low base

Real GDP is expected to rebound in FY 2018/19, with activity being supported by strong performance in domestic consumption, after a slowdown the previous year due to the demonetisation drive (withdrawal of the 500 and 1000 rupee notes) and the introduction of a goods and services tax (GST). Household consumption was negatively affected by these measures, and its impact on the informal sector – although difficult to quantify – has been significant. However, improved financial integration of the poorest households should support demand in the long term. Inflation has picked up on higher energy prices in 2018, and is expected to reach 5.3% by the end of FY 2018/19. Higher inflation and a weaker currency have prompted the bank to hike rates. Compounded with higher debt repayment costs, this could drag on consumption going forward.

The private sector should continue to benefit from Modi government’s reforms, aimed at boosting India’s manufacturing sector, attracting FDI, and reducing the constraints burdening the economy. However, non-performing loans (NPLs) in the banking system are at an all-time high of almost 10%, which in turn has impacted the monetary policy transmission mechanism and kept borrowing costs high. This has hindered domestic companies’ willingness to borrow money and invest. Reforms aimed at cleaning up the banking system have been put in place, but reckoning with NPLs will take time.

 

Willingness to improve public finances but little progress

Fiscal deficit and public debt levels remain high, but the country has initiated plans to reduce them. The most notable of these is the introduction of the GST, which aims to boost fiscal revenues and make the economy more competitive in the long term, despite some disruption in the short term (higher prices). In addition, measures to demonetise a portion of outstanding bank notes should improve budget revenue by reducing the impact of the informal economy. However, fiscal consolidation efforts will be hindered by higher energy prices, as India remains a net importer of oil.

The current account deficit is expected to increase. The increase in imports is partly due to the rising demand for gold after demonetisation, as well as higher commodity prices Deficits in the trade and income balances are likely to worsen, and the services surplus could reduce.

The rupee is expected to continue to face depreciatory pressure in 2018, while remaining vulnerable to a rise in global risk aversion and a faster-than-expected rate of monetary policy tightening in the United States. In contrast, foreign exchange (FX) reserves are set to remain at comfortable levels (nearly ten months of imports in 2017), and FDI and portfolio investments are on an upward trend.

 

National Democratic Alliance faces some challenges

India’s ruling coalition, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), is an alliance of several parties, of which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – Modi’s Party – is the largest. The BJP has suffered setbacks recently, such as losing its simple majority in the lower house of Indian parliament in the May 2018 by-elections. In the recent Karnataka state elections, the opposition forged a post-poll alliance to prevent BJP from storming to power. BJP still rules 21 out of 29 Indian states, but has a tough battle ahead in the three state elections slated for 2018.

Kashmir remains a source of tensions between India, Pakistan, and the separatists of the region. Diplomatic talks were suspended after an attack on an Indian base in Punjab on January 2016, and relations between the two countries have deteriorated in recent months. New tensions emerged after the Indian army shot the leader of the main insurgent movement, Sabzar Ahled Bhat, in Kashmir on May 2017. However, an escalation of violence is unlikely as Pakistan and India both have an interest in maintaining the status quo.

 

Last update : September 2018

Payment

Due to the increasingly developed banking network in India, SWIFT bank transfers are becoming more popular for both international and domestic transactions.

Standby Letters of Credit constitute a reliable means of payment, as a bank guarantees the debtor’s credit quality and repayment abilities. Confirmed Documentary Letters of Credit are also recognised, although these can be more expensive, as the debtor guarantees that a certain amount of money is available to the beneficiary via a bank.

Post-dated cheques, a valid method of payment, also act as a debt recognition title. They allow for the initiation of legal and insolvency proceedings in cases of outstanding payments.

Debt collection

Amicable phase

The practice of amicably settling trade receivables has proven to be one of the most productive solutions, as it allows the parties involved to deal with the underlying issues of the settlement in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. Average payment collection periods vary between 30 to 90 days following the establishment of contact with the debtor. Local working practices mean that debtors pay directly to the creditor, rather than to a collection agency. Indian law does not regulates late payments, or provide for a legal enforceable late payment interest rates. In practice, debtors do not pay interest on overdue amounts.

Major issues in the country currently mean that debtors are facing huge financial difficulties. The situation has deteriorated since demonetisation in November 2016 and the introduction of the GST unified tax structure (the Goods & Service Tax), in July 2017. The other main reason for payment delays is the complexity of payment procedures and approvals by banks for the restructuring plans of major players in the manufacturing sector. India is faced with a severe problem of bad loans and most of them have been declared as NPAs by the banks. This deteriorating asset quality has hit the profitability of banks and eroded their capital, thereby curbing their ability to grant much-needed loans to industries for their restructuring and revitalisation.

 

Legal proceedings

Indian companies have a preference for amicable recovery methods, as the country’s judicial system is both expensive and slow. There is no fixed period for court cases, while the average length is from two to four years. The statute of limitations is three years from the due date of an invoice. The statute of limitations can be extended for an additional three years, if the debtor acknowledges the debt in writing or makes partial payment of the debt.

Legal proceedings are recommended after the amicable phase, if debtor is still operating and in good financial health, is wilfully resisting payment, disputing the claim for insignificant reasons, not honouring payment plans or not providing documentary evidence.

 

Type of proceedings

Arbitration: Arbitration can be initiated if mentioned in the sales contract - otherwise the case can be sent to the National Company Law Tribunal (the NCLT) for registered companies.

Recovery Suits: Recovery suits tend to become a long, drawn-out battle and are usually regarded as best avoided.

National Company Law Tribunal: The NCLT was created on 1st June, 2016. It has jurisdiction over all aspects of company law concerning registered companies. Its advantages are that it can hear all company affairs in one centralised location and that it offers speedy processes (taking a maximum of 180 days). It also reduces the work load of the High Courts. The NCLT recently enacted a new Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. Decisions of the NCLT may be appealed to the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). The NCLAT acts as the appellate forum and hears all appeals from the NCLT. Appeals from the NCLAT are heard by the Supreme Court of India.

Insolvency proceedings

The Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, introduced in 2016, proposes two independent stages:

 

Insolvency resolution process (IRP)

The IRP provides a collective mechanism for creditors to deal with distressed debtors. A financial creditor (for a financial debt), or an operational creditor (for an unpaid operational debt) can initiate an IRP against a debtor at the National Company Law tribunal (NCLT). The Court appoints a Resolution professional to administer the IRP. The Resolution professional takes over the management of the corporate debtor and continues to operate its business. It identifies the financial creditors and holds a creditors committee. Operational creditors above a certain threshold are also allowed to attend meetings, but they do not have voting power. Each decision requires a 75% majority vote. The committee considers proposals for the revival of the debtor and must decide whether to proceed with a revival plan, or to liquidate, within 180 days.

 

Liquidation

A debtor may be put into liquidation if a 75% majority of the creditors’ committee resolves to liquidate it during the IRP, if the committee does not approve a resolution plan within 180 days, or if the NCLT rejects the resolution plan submitted on technical grounds. Upon liquidation, secured creditors can choose to realise their securities and receive proceeds from the sale of the secured assets as a priority.

Under the current Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, the highest priority is given to insolvency resolution process and liquidation costs. Thereafter, proceeds are then allocated to employee compensation and secured creditors, followed by unsecured and government dues.

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