Sunday, November 16, 2008

Goods and Services tax for India

NIPFP Working Paper 57

R. Kavita Rao
November, 2008

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Interface between Economic Development Health and Environment in India: An Econometric Investigation

NIPFP Working Paper 56

A.L. Nagar,Amit Shovon Ray, Aprna Sawhney, Sayan Samanta
October, 2008

This paper analyses interrelationships between ‘economic development’, ‘health’, and ‘environment’ in a simultaneous equations framework. Four structural equations have been postulated to explain changes in four endogenous variables in terms of several predetermined variables. The endogenous variables chosen for the model are GDPPC (per capita gross domestic product), LE (life expectancy), NOCRD (number of cases of respiratory diseases) and PM10 (respirable suspended particulate matter). We assume that GDPPC describes economic development prominently and, therefore, use it as one of the endogenous variables in lieu of economic development. LE and NOCRD are assumed to reflect health effects in the economy, and PM10 is used as a proxy of environmental stress. The four endogenous variables are supposed to be jointly determined in terms of several exogenous variables represented through indices of physical infrastructure (PI), social infrastructure (SI) and air pollution index (API). We construct the three indices by the principal components method and thus effectively use only these three predetermined (exogenous) variables to simultaneously determine changes in the four endogenous variables listed above. The model is postulated in loglinear form and estimated by the two-stage least-squares method using data from the Indian economy 1980-81 to 2004-05. It follows from the estimated structural equations that while physical infrastructure is significant in determining GDPPC, the GDPPC is also directly influenced by improved health outcomes like longevity (LE) and lower morbidity from respiratory diseases (NOCRD). The long term health outcome (LE) is determined by the level of per capita GDP and it is positively affected by social infrastructure. The third structural equation shows that the immediate, or short run, health outcomes like morbidity from respiratory disorders are influenced by environmental stress (PM10) besides the level of GDPPC. Finally, the environmental stress (PM10) is determined by the level of per capita GDP and the air pollution index (API) representing various sources of air pollution. It is true that our simplified model illustrates the effects of specific type of air pollutant, viz., respirable particulate matter, however, it is among the most significant environmental problems threatening human health in India. Nevertheless, there is scope to build more comprehensive environmental stress indices which reflect surface water quality, ground water quality, soil pollution etc. which have feedback effects with health and economic development. Also many of the components of PI, SI and API may not be truly exogenous in a larger model (e.g. transport and communication in PI, education and health care systems in SI, and industrial production, vehicular traffic, urbanisation in API.) The two weaknesses of our model stem from data limitation and a concern to simplify the model. Although our model is highly simplified, nonetheless, it provides key insights into the nature of economic development in India during the last 25 years: First, the environmental stress has had a high cost on income and health  from the derived reduced form, a 1 percent increase in the air pollution index leads to a decrease of about 8 percent in the per capita income, a decrease of about 0.7 percent in the life expectancy, and an increase of about 19 percent in the number of cases of respiratory diseases. Second, the social infrastructure plays a more vital role in economic development, health, and environment than the physical infrastructure, since the absolute values of elasticities of endogenous variables with respect to SI are invariably greater than those with respect to PI. Although physical infrastructure is important for economic development, it comes in the last of our preference order. In the final run-up, there is need to pay more attention to provide better social infrastructure and to reduce air pollution.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Issues Before the Thirteenth Finance Commission

NIPFP Working Paper 55

M. Govinda Rao, Tapas Kumar Sen and Pratap R. Jena
August, 2008

The Thirteenth Finance Commission faces challenging times. Despite improvement, the fiscal situation continues to be a matter of concern when off budget liabilities and other fiscal risks are considered. In the changing situation of increasing oil prices on the one hand and surge in capital flows on the other, calibrating the transfer system in tune with counter-cyclical fiscal policy stance is a formidable challenge.

The paper argues that irrespective of the wording of the Terms of Reference (ToR), the Commission would do well to focus on its primary task of recommending transfers to serve the objective of equity and incentives. While it is required to take into account a number of considerations, the focus should be on the transfer system. As an impartial body, the Commission should make a fair assessment of the union as well as state governments, ignoring the asymmetries in the wording of the ToR.

As regards the transfer system itself is concerned, the paper argues that
although it may be difficult to make drastic changes in the relative shares of the states, the Commission should give up the gap filling approach. Instead, after recommending the tax devolution, the Commission should recommend grants to fully equalise expenditures on elementary education and basic healthcare. It is also possible to incentivise the transfer system for even those states that have a better record of providing education and healthcare to improve quality of these services. If necessary, the tax devolution percentage can be appropriately adjusted to ensure equalisation of social services.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Early warnings of inflation in India

NIPFP Working Paper 54,

Rudrani Bhattacharya, Ila Patnaik and Ajay Shah
August, 2008

In India, year-on-year percentage changes of price indexes are widely used as the measure of inflation. In terms of monthly data, each observation of a one-year change in inflation is the sum of twelve one-month changes. This suggests that better information about inflationary pressures can be obtained using point-on-point monthly changes. This requires seasonal adjustment. We apply standard seasonal adjustment procedures in order to obtain a point-on-point seasonally adjusted monthly time-series of inflation in India. In three interesting high inflation episodes – 1994-95, 2007 and 2008 - we find that this data yields a faster and better understanding of inflationary pressures.

This paper also appeared as Planning Commission Working Paper No. 1/2008- PC

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Fiscal Policy and Economic Reforms

NIPFP Working Paper 53,

July, 2008

In an lecture at NIPFP, RBI Governor Dr. Y.V Reddy gives a practitioner's perspective of fiscal policy and economic reforms.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Managing Capital Flows: The case of India

NIPFP Working Paper 52,

Ajay Shah and Ila Patnaik
May, 2008

From the early 1990s, India embarked on easing capital controls. Liberalization emphasised openness towards equity flows, both FDI and portfolio flows. In particular, there are few barriers in the face of portfolio equity flows. In recent years, a massive increase in the value of foreign ownership of Indian equities has come about, largely reflecting improvements in the size, liquidity and corporate governance of Indian firms. While the system of capital controls appears formidable, the de facto openness on the ground is greater than is apparent, particularly because of the substantial enlargement of the current account. These changes to capital account openness were not accompanied by commensurate monetary policy reform. The monetary policy regime has consisted essentially of a pegged exchange rate to the US dollar throughout. Increasing openness on the capital account, coupled with exchange rate pegging, has led to a substantial loss of monetary policy autonomy. The logical way forward now consists of bringing the de jure capital controls uptodate with the defacto convertibility, and embarking on reforms of the monetary policy framework so as to shift the focus of monetary policy away from the exchange rate to domestic inflation.

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Friday, May 30, 2008

New Issues in Indian Macro Policy

NIPFP Working Paper 51,

Ajay Shah
May, 2008

Macroeconomic policy thinking in India has been rooted in an environment with five key parameters: agricultural shocks rather than a conventional business cycle, a closed economy, deeply distortionary tax policy coupled with a fiscal crisis, financial markets that lacked speculative price discovery, and a monetary policy shaped by deficit financing. This environment has been completely altered through India’s integration into the world economy, the rise of one financial market (the equity market), the reduced importance of the monsoon, the rise of conventional business cycle dynamics, a partial abatement of the fiscal crisis and a monetary policy environment with loss of autonomy owing to exchange rate pegging. These changes call for a rethink of the macroeconomic policy framework. The agenda of assuring fiscal stability needs to be seen to its conclusion. Monetary policy and fiscal policy need to be converted into tools for macroeconomic stabilisation.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Does the currency regime shape unhedged currency exposure?

NIPFP Working Paper 50,

Ila Patnaik, Ajay Shah
May, 2008

This paper examines how unhedged currency exposure of firms varies with changes in currency flexibility. A sequence of four time-periods with alternating high and low currency volatility in India provides a natural experiment in which changes in currency exposure of a panel of firms is measured, and the moral hazard versus incomplete markets hypotheses tested. We find that firms carried higher currency exposure in periods when the currency was less flexible. We also find homogeneity of views, where firms set themselves up to benefit from a rupee appreciation, in the later two periods. Our results support the moral hazard hypothesis that low currency flexibility encourages firms to hold unhedged exposure in response to implicit government guarantees.

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