‘India more vulnerable, World in deep trouble’ (Roundup)

June 18th, 2012 - 10:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Los Cabos (Mexico), June 18 (IANS) India has far less ammunition now than in 2008 to contain the fallout if the current global economic instability precipitates, Indian interlocutors have said ahead of the G20 Summit here.

“The world is in deep trouble,” Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told journalists, soon after landing at the San Jose del Cabo International Airport via Frankfurt. “Hope the G20 fill come up with constructive proposals to get the world out of the crisis,” he added.

At the same time, the Indian side felt there was some positive signals emerging ahead of the G20 Summit with the results of parliamentary elections in Greece indicating that the debt-laden country could remain in the Eurozone.

In fact, ahead of leaving for Mexico, the prime minister had expressed concern over the situation.

“This situation in Europe is of particular concern, as Europe accounts for a significant share of the global economy and is also India’s major trade and investment partner,” the prime minister said.

“Continuing problems there will further dampen global markets and adversely impact our own economic growth. It is our hope that European leaders will take resolute action to resolve the financial problems facing them.”

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said: “It is a more challenging crisis in many ways. I wouldn’t say at the moment it is more serious, since we don’t know if it will be managed or not.”

“In the first crisis, there was enough fiscal room to respond. There isn’t enough fiscal room to respond now,” he added, comparing the situation in 2008, when the crisis started, with the state of play now when it has threatened to resurface with far more damaging implications.

“When there is a big global crisis, emerging markets are not left unaffected,” he said. According to him the main reason for India’s slowdown were the result of what was happening across the globe. But he conceded that there were domestic problems as well that needed to be addressed.

“We will be lucky this year if we are between 6.5 percent and 7 percent,” he said on the growth rate he expected for the Indian economy for the current fiscal.

Ahluwalia, who is Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s principal interlocutor at the G20 Summit, said the outcome of the Greece parliamentary elections - which could help the country stay in the Eurozone and induce reforms - may calm the markets a little bit.

But the situation demanded much more and that there could not be any short-term solutions. “My view is this slowdown cannot be handled by a quick-fix, ‘Lets speed up expenditure’ kind of balancing.”

The plan panel deputy chair also did not see much of a problem on account of the fact that India has a short-term debt of $137 billion that it has to repay, arguing such outflows will be met by similar inflows. He also said the country also had enough reserves to service the debt, adding that for an economy like India’s, which was growing at around 6-7 percent, bankers would only be happy to lend money.

Manmohan Singh, who arrived in this Mexican resort town Sunday, hoped that the G20 Summit would manage to find meaningful solutions to how to arrest the current global economic turmoil and restore growth.

He will start his engagements Monday with a meeting he is hosting for the BRICS leaders-Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and South African President Jacob Zuma.

Manmohan Singh is also scheduled to meet a host of other leaders Monday, including Mexican President and host Felipe Calderon and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. A pull aside with US President Barack Obama is also expected, officials said. Bilateral talks will also continue Wednesday.

The prime minister, on an eight-day overseas visit since Saturday, is also set to attend the Rio+20 Summit on the environment at Rio de Janerio, for which he leaves Tuesday night and reaches the next morning.

(Arvind Padmanabhan can be reached at arvind.p@ians.in)

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