The World Bank has warned that failure to pass the Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill by Parliament could hamper the Indian government's ability to ramp up spending on infrastructure.
"A failure to pass the Goods and Services Tax could hamper the government's ability to ramp up spending on infrastructure needs and preserve the status quo of fragmented domestic markets," it said in its latest report Global Economic Outlook yesterday. The Constitution Amendment bill to roll out GST is stuck in the Rajya Sabha where the ruling NDA does not have a majority of its own.
"Slow progress on land reforms could add to investment delays, and private investment growth may be unable to build further momentum," the report said, adding that the financing of public-private partnerships also remains a challenge.
It said although India has made good progress on reducing external vulnerabilities and strengthening the credibility of the macro policy framework, high levels of nonperforming loans in the banking sector, concentrated in construction, natural resource and infrastructure sectors, could impede a pickup in investment if left unaddressed.
"There are also downside risks to growth in the near term from sub-par monsoon rainfall across most of India, and farm output growth may prove weaker than projected," it added. GST, which seeks to simplify and harmonise the indirect tax regime across the country with a single uniform rate, has been stuck for many years in a political gridlock. While the previous UPA regime failed to get it passed in Parliament due to opposition from the BJP and some other parties, Congress has now refused to support the bill proposed by the NDA government in its present form.