"India Still Below 2002 Debt Level": Finance Ministry On IMF Report

Following reports of the International Monetary Fund cautioning India on alleged government debt vulnerabilities, the Centre on Friday said that certain presumptions have been made, which do not reflect the factual position.

"India Still Below 2002 Debt Level": Finance Ministry On IMF Report

Following reports of the International Monetary Fund cautioning India on alleged government debt vulnerabilities, the Centre on Friday said that certain presumptions have been made, which do not reflect the factual position.

One of the key points that the finance ministry has raised is that a majority of India's general government debt, which includes those of the Centre and states, is in rupees, and external borrowings make up only a small portion. It pointed out that the rollover risk is low for domestic debt.

In its Article IV consultations with India, the IMF had said that, under adverse shocks, the country's general government debt could be 100% of debt to GDP ratio by FY 2028. The ministry has clarified that this was mentioned as an extreme possibility like "once-in-a-century Covid-19" and was among various favourable and unfavourable scenarios that were listed. The ministry has emphasised that in that instance, the IMF was talking only of a worst-case scenario and this is not a "fait accompli".

The finance ministry also pointed out that IMF reports for other countries showed a much higher extreme scenario for them, with the figures being 160% for the US, 140% for the UK and 200% for China. 

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The IMF report for India also indicates that, under favourable circumstances, the General Government Debt to GDP ratio may decline to below 70 per cent in the same period, the ministry said.

The ministry said that shocks like Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine war have uniformly impacted the global economy. Despite this, it said, India has done relatively well and is still below the debt level of 2002.

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It also emphasised that the general government debt has reduced significantly from approximately 88% in FY 2020-21 to about 81% in 2022-23 and that the Centre is on track to "achieve its stated fiscal consolidation target (to reduce fiscal deficit below 4.5 per cent of GDP by FY 2025-26)".