Pre-Budget stock-taking: Economic Survey in 7 points


NEW DELHI: All eyes are on the Economic Survey which is going to be released today. The survey, authored by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian, is expected to offer clarity on the policy priorities of the government and some estimate of the impact of demonetisation on the economy.

1. Fewer hard copies
In continuation with the government’s advance towards a digital economy, the Economic Survey too will go digital. The government will print fewer copies of the survey and even the Budget. Both will be posted online on the Ministry of Finance website after these documents are tabled in Parliament.

2. A paired-down survey
Due to the advancement of the Union Budget, the Economic Survey might come in two parts. The one to be released today, a day before Budget, may not have the review of economic developments of the past year which can figure in another survey to be released in July.

3. Demonetisation impact on GDP growth
The first advance estimates released by the Central Statistics Office in the beginning of January did not include impact of demonetisation on the GDP growth. Subramanian is likely to give his own estimate of the impact of demonetisation on GDP growth.

4. Universal basic income

This year’s survey will have a prominent theme—universal basic income. It’s a revolutionary idea that entails shifting subsidies into direct cash transfer to the poor. Subramanian will give the broad contours of the idea which might turn into government policy in some shape.

5. Digital economy
Given the government’s aggressive policy push for a less-cash economy, the Economic Survey is expected to detail the policy around various measures and the capacity of the economy to adjust to the new measures.

6. Black economy
There has been a lot of speculation about the next government step against black money after demonetisation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has himself spoken about a possible crackdown on benami properties. The survey might throw some light on the future direction of the government’s war on the black economy.

7. The Trump effect
The Economic Survey’s analysis of foreign trade can include the scope of Indian economy in the face of global protectionist trends, which were highlighted by recent steps against worker visas by US President Donald Trump. Indian exports face various challenges due to international trade agreements and duty structures.