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No need to panic on S&P negative outlook: Mukherjee

Delhi,Business/Economy, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) The government is concerned about ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) lowering India's credit rating outlook but there is no need to panic, said Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Wednesday.


"I am concerned, but I don't feel panicky because I am confident that our economy will grow by around 7 percent, if not plus. We will be able to control fiscal deficit and it will be around 5.1 percent," Mukherjee said reacting to S&P's revision of outlook on India's sovereign ratings.


S&P has lowered its outlook on India to negative from stable and warned of a ratings downgrade citing deteriorating economic indicators and slow progress on fiscal reforms in the backdrop of a "weakened political setting".


However, Mukherjee said the lowering in outlook was based on the assumptions that India would not be able to contain fiscal deficit at 5.1 percent of the GDP and the economy would not grow at 7 percent.


He said the government was hopeful of meeting the economic growth and fiscal deficit targets.


On economic reforms, Mukherjee said there had been delays but the government was taking steps to push up the reforms process.


"No doubt there has been delay on the legislative front. Direct Tax Code, which is one of the major tax reforms, we will be able to enact it in the next session of parliament. Certain other legislations which have received the approval of the parliamentary standing committee will be taken up for consideration either in the later part of this session or in the monsoon session," said the minister who is also Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha.


"So, economic reforms process will be on track and necessary administrative decisions required to ensure that fiscal deficit is retained at the projected level will be taken, and we should continue to work for higher GDP growth," he said.


S&P has kept India's long-term rating unchanged at BBB-, which is the lowest investment grade rating.


S&P credit analyst Takahira Ogawa said there was one-in-three likelihood of India's sovereign ratings downgrade.


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