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IMF suggests tightening of fiscal policy for India

With the notable exception of India, a number of economies in emerging Asia have room to make policy more supportive of economic activity, given favourable debt dynamics, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on April 17.

Among G20 economies, more tightening than currently projected appears necessary in Argentina, India, Russia, and Turkey, it said in its half yearly World Economic Outlook (WEO) released ahead of this week's World Bank-IMF spring meetings.

In a highly uncertain global environment, managing volatile capital inflows could be another policy challenge for many emerging market economies, the WEO said.

Some economies have already started using macro-prudential measures designed to manage capital inflows, such as taxes on certain inflows, minimum holding periods, and currency-specific requirements.

For example, Brazil and India rolled back the level of such taxes and restrictions as capital flows slackened.

Activity across Asia slowed during the last quarter of 2011, reflecting both external and domestic developments, the WEO said, noting that the effect of spill-overs from Europe can be seen in the weakness of Asia's exports to that region.

In some economies such as India, domestic factors also contributed to the slowdown, as a deterioration in business sentiment weakened investment and policy tightening raised borrowing costs.

Many Asian economies could advance their plans to boost social safety nets and increase investment in infrastructure if another round of fiscal stimulus is warranted, WEO said.

However, fiscal consolidation remains a priority in India and Japan, to anchor confidence and rebuild room to meet future challenges.

Although monetary tightening has been appropriately paused in many Asian economies, and cautiously reversed in some, room for further easing is constrained in economies where underlying inflation pressures remain (India, Indonesia) and in those that are still working through previous credit expansion (China), WEO said.

Room for monetary easing could also be constrained in some emerging market economies like India and Indonesia facing inflation pressure, it said. However, in these economies, less credit would help reduce overheating pressures.

Bank loan growth has slowed in China and India amid concerns about deteriorating loan quality, WEO noted.