economic survey 2019: Economic Survey 2019: The Budget curtain raiser and the man who’ll bring it


CEA Krishnamurthy Subramanian will table the Economic Survey 2018-19 tomorrow. The survey, which is a yearly report on the economy for the year gone by, will also be the first such survey under Modi 2.0.

All eyes are on the new CEA to find out what he thinks of the problems that the economy faces and what he thinks would be the best solutions.

Will the much-awaited document feature the issues Subramanian has been vocal about — economic slowdown, lack of minimum wages, NBFCs and PSBs in India’s under-banked market?


To those looking for cues as to what Subramanian’s report will likely reveal, a look at the career path of the man and some of his past comments may be instructive.

Subramanian regards India’s 7.5% growth in the last five years, which came despite a slowdown in capital formation, as the marker of robust economic performance. According to him, high average growth — with avoidance of double digit inflation — shows an economy doing well on its fiscal prudence part.

“The Indian economy is witnessing high growth, low inflation and is doing pretty okay on the external sector and fiscal prudence part,” is how Subramanian sums it up.

He has justified the PM-KISAN scheme as a significant helping hand to farmers, but at the same time he has also highlighted how Modi government’s report card on agri leaves much to be desired.

He has also backed the drive by Modi government to push for fewer and bigger lenders to exploit economies of scale.

India’s NBFC mess — the crisis that has the entire financial space in a turmoil — is characteristic of all financial sectors everywhere; asset-liability mismatches — like the ones at the heart of the current crisis — are par for the course when the going is good, but are dangerous when things get tougher, he says.

Subramanian has pointed out the information asymmetry in financial markets and called for an improvement in the disclosure framework.

Not one to mince words, Subramanian takes critics of Modi govt’s jobs record head on. According to him, the earlier employment-unemployment survey and the present Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) numbers are not comparable. In an interview with ET, he said that the entire conversation that unemployment rate has increased, is misinformed.

He backs IBC, DBT and a simplified tax regime — which he believes will reduce cronyism in the economy and lead to better use of taxpayers’ money.

Emphasising on the need to incentivise young rather than small businesses per se, the CEA stated that we basically support dwarfs and should be supporting gazelles which eventually do grow and not stagnate. He believes it will open up jobs and opportunities in future.

And while he is at it, he has also drawn attention to the need to liberate India from archaic land and labour laws to be able to compete on a global level.

Known as a man whose views are ‘original, innovative and provocative’, Subramanian hailed demonetisation as a ‘refreshing change’ in the crusade against corruption.

Prior to his academic career as a finance professor at ISB, Hyderabad, Subramanian worked as a consultant with JPMorgan Chase in New York. He is a globally recognised scholar whose expertise has been previously sought by the RBI and SEBI.

Under the mentorship of former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan, he obtained his PhD and eventually co-authored a paper with Viral Acharya on the state of India’s public sector banks.

Subramanian is affectionately called ‘Subbu’ by friends. It remains to be seen how affectionately investors, markets and the industry take to him.

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