India likely to grow at 7.2% in 2017, 7.7% in 2018: Jaitley

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New Delhi, April 1 (IANS) The Indian economy is expected to grow at 7.2 per cent in 2017 and by 7.7 per cent in 2018, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said on Saturday.

“Though this is a challenging time, India has remained a bright spot. We have successfully implemented reform measures,” Jaitley said at the second annual meeting of the New Development Bank (NDB) here.

He said that India requires investment of Rs 43 lakh crore or $646 billion for infrastructure over the next five years and hoped that the NDB, which became operational in 2015, could contribute to this.

“This offers enormous opportunity,” he said.

“NDB President K.V. Kamath has done a commendable job. The bank is now fully operational. It has successfully raised money from the market. It will soon make disbursements in India,” he said.

“The first agreement on NDB loan in Madhya Pradesh has been signed some days back,” Jaitley added.

He said that NDB was established to finance sustainable development projects and must fit into the role envisioned by its founding nations — India, China, Brazil, Russia and South Africa.

Hoping that the NDB will offer loans at cheaper rates, Jaitley said India was looking to have a mutually beneficial partnership with the bank.

“I hope that NDB will emerge as a development bank and help in funding of emerging economies,” he said and added that protectionism and geopolitical tension remained as major challenges for the economies.

“Protectionism is a challenge to growth prospects. But global growth is showing positive sign and moving upwards and is expected to improve further in 2017-18,” the Finance Minister said.

Kamath, who also addressed the opening ceremony said that the bank was looking at financing over $two billion in 15 projects of member countries in 2017.

The bank, which has headquarters in Shanghai, had financed seven projects in 2016 and is now working towards opening its first regional centre in Africa.

“We found great support in first year of operation. We hope to open African Regional Centre by May,” Kamath said.

–IANS

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