Government says manufacturing is actually picking up

Mumbai, Feb 15 (IANS) The government on Monday said India’s manufacturing is picking up and that there is an erroneous impression of slack in the sector.

“Manufacturing is actually picking up. The last quarter figure showed that the country’s GDP growth will be over seven percent. It also revealed that manufacturing is growing over nine percent,” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told reporters here on the sidelines of the Make in India Week event.

She said a “perception is going around in the circle” which has been made without looking at those figures.

Referring to the controversy over the new methodology introduced last year for calculating the country’s national income, the minister said the investment offers and agreements signed so far in the Make in India Week are an indicator that manufacturing is gaining traction.

“There can be a lot of discussions about the methodology, the process of getting the numbers and there is no harm in discussing. But, of course, ultimately if there is no doubt after the due discussions, we have to settle somewhere and start believing rather than keep the discussions going on,” she said.

“At the end of the day, you are not able to sit and work on numbers because you question everything,” Sitharaman added.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has projected a growth rate of 7.6 percent for the current financial year.

Meanwhile, data on the index of industrial production (IIP) last week showed India’s factory output declined again in December by 1.3 percent. There was a growth of 3.6 percent in December 2014.

Although the December output growth continued to be in the negative as compared to 3.6 percent growth in December 2014, it was somewhat better than the 3.42 percent decline registered in the month before.

December IIP was dragged lower by a 2.4 percent drop in manufacturing activity.

Also, official data on Monday showed that India’s annual wholesale rate of inflation declined marginally to (-)0.90 percent for January from (-)0.73 percent for the month before. It was the 15th straight month since November 2014 that deflationary pressure persisted and wholesale inflation has remained in the negative zone.

Commenting on the data, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) said the persistence of deflationary conditions reflected continued moderation in demand.

“This combined with two consecutive months of negative IIP growth point towards strain in industrial activity,” Ficci Secretary General A. Didar Singh said in a statement in Delhi.

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