Favours partial sale of profit-making non-navaratna PSUs, and tackling of inflationary impulses Holding out a warning that the current slowdown in the U.S. would have an effect on the Indian economy, the Economic Survey 2007-08 maintained that sustaining a high GDP growth of nine per cent while reining in inflation would be a tough challenge. Tabled in Parliament by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram on Thursday, the Government's pre-Budget annual economic progress report said that in the current uncertain scenario, an increase in the overall growth to double digits would entail additional reforms and came out with a policy prescription. Among the various measures suggested to sustain the high growth momentum, the Survey favoured partial sale of the identified profit-making non-navaratna public sector undertakings (PSUs), phasing out control on sugar, fertilizer and drugs, sale of old oilfields to the private sector, a higher share for foreign equity in retail trade and further opening up of the banking and insurance sectors to foreign direct investment (FDI). With the economy projected to grow at 8.7 per cent during the current fiscal, the Survey pointed out that the lower growth represented a deceleration from the unexpectedly high growth of 9.4 and 9.6 per cent in the preceding two years. "Maintaining growth rate at nine per cent will be a challenge and raising it to two digits will be an even greater one,' the Survey said. Linking the huge accumulation of foreign capital inflows as the reason for the pressure building up on prices, the Survey said that inflationary impulses from global commodity prices must be tackled through use of fiscal and trade policy instruments. Inflation this fiscal is projected to return to the earlier level of 4.4 per cent, down from 5.4 per cent in 2006-07. Deceleration in growth this fiscal appears to have spread across all sectors except electricity, community service and services such as trade, hotels, transport and communications. More significantly, the slowdown in the farm sector growth is attributed to the sluggish trend witnessed in rabi crops. Also, other sectors like manufacturing and construction which grew at 12 per cent in 2006-07 dropped by 2.5 percentage points in the current year. "The slower growth of consumer durables was the most important factor in the slowdown of manufacturing,' the Survey said. As for the external sector, the U.S. economy is expected to slow down in 2008 as a fall-out of the sub-prime mortgage crisis. In fact, most projections of global economies anticipate a moderate and not severe slowdown. "This will impact all countries including India, depending on the importance of the slowdown in different countries and importance of the country in our exports,' the Survey concluded, while pointing out that a further fall in exports to the U.S. might be unavoidable but would be relatively modest. On the flip side, the Survey viewed that one of the implications of the U.S. sub-prime crises would be increased capital inflows into India and other emerging markets. "Thus the situation of excess inflows is likely to remain, though the pressure on reserve accumulation and exchange rate appreciation is likely to ease. Any reduction in excess capital flows from the high levels in 2007 may affect the equity markets in the short-term, but will make the task of monetary management easier,' it said.