'India should use low oil prices to put fiscal house in order'

The sharp decline in global crude oil prices gives India a rare "window of opportunity" to put its fiscal house in order and carry out the much-needed economic reforms like cutting down oil subsidy, says a top World Bank official. He also feels that the reforms could get the country back to higher growth rate and prepare it for any global economic crisis in the future. "Drop in oil prices is going to have differential impact on different countries.

But for a country like India, it is really an opportunity to use this window of low oil prices to put in fiscal consolidation, to put in other kinds of reforms and to get growth back up," Kaushik Basu, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, told PTI. Before coming to the World Bank, Basu was Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India under the previous UPA regime led by Manmohan Singh.

'India should use low oil prices to put fiscal house in order'
"I just hope that India will take advantage of the low oil prices, which we expect will remain, unlike in 2008 when the oil prices fell and bounced back within six months. This time we expect oil prices to remain moderately low at least over the next year and may be more," he said. "India must take this opportunity to put in fiscal reforms and growth. India is already growing at the rate of five per cent, which is not bad, but it can get the growth going even faster," he said. Noting that India does spend a lot of money in oil subsidy, Basu said if at this point of time the subsidy is cut down, price would not rise sharply.

When oil prices are very high, cutting down the subsidy results in sharp increase in oil prices. "Today is a great opportunity to cut down on these subsidies. This would cause price to rise only a little bit and in some case may be not even rise at all given that global prices are very low," he said. Such a move by the Indian Government, he observed, would immediately create fiscal space because you cut down on your subsidy expenditure.


Read more about: oil, fiscal deficit
Story first published: Thursday, January 8, 2015, 13:40 [IST]
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